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Lilly Endowment's value drops to $5.3 billion

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Lilly Endowment Inc. announced Monday that its assets declined 7 percent, to $5.3 billion, in 2009, as the Indianapolis-based private foundation continued to lose money on Eli Lilly and Co. stock.

The stock, which accounts for 91 percent of the endowment's total assets, was worth $4.8 billion at the end of 2009, an 11-percent drop over the prior year, according to the endowment's annual report.

Lilly Endowment's directors blamed the economy for their declining assets, though the broader stock market staged a dramatic recovery.

"2009 proved to be another challenging year due to what many call the most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression," the report stated. "Not only did the value of Lilly Endowment's assets decline, the impact of the recent economic crisis continued to be felt by virtually all the endowment's grantees and the individuals and families they serve."

One positive aspect of the endowment's concentrated holdings was a 27-percent increase in dividend income, which was $337.4 million. That amount easily covered the endowment's grant-making activity.

In 2009, Lilly Endowment donated $276.1 million toward its three priorities: education, religion and community development. Most of the money, 76 percent, went to Indiana organizations.

The endowment also approved $282.3 million in future grants during 2009.

Lilly Endowment remains among the nation's 10 largest grant-making foundations, according the Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual ranking despite shrinking dramatically over the past half-decade. The foundation was worth more than $8.3 billion in 2005.

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