Lilly Endowment takes stock of year with $270.3M in grants

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Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. paid grants of $270.3 million to charitable organizations in 2013, more than two-thirds of which were located in Indiana, according to its annual report released Friday.

The assets of the philanthropic organization grew to $7.7 billion at the end of 2013, from about $7.4 billion on Dec. 31, 2012. The endowment’s holdings are primarily comprised of shares of Eli Lilly and Co., whose value increased about 5 percent in 2013.

Founded in 1937 by the pharmaceutical company namesake’s son and grandsons, Lilly Endowment is one of the largest private foundations in the country. Over 76 years, it has distributed $8.2 billion to more 9,000 organizations.

In 2013, it paid out $270.3 million, the report said. Education grants accounted for $127.1 million (47 percent), religion grants accounted for $75.7 million (28 percent), and community development grants totaled $67.5 million (25 percent).

Organizations in Indiana received a total of $186.4 million (69 percent). Of those grants, about $50 million went to groups in Marion County.

In 2012, the endowment paid out $230 million in grants, including $72.6 million to Indianapolis entities and $79.9 million elsewhere in the state.

In 2013, the endowment also approved another $260.8 million in new grant funding. Of the newly approved grants, $117.1 million will go toward education groups, $75.7 million for religion, and $68 million for community development.

Worth $15.6 billion in 2000, the endowment lost value as Lilly shares swooned after the drugmaker lost patent protection for its blockbuster antidepressant Prozac.

In 2006, the endowment announced plans to diversify its holdings—and mitigate its risk—by selling Lilly stock. At the end of 2013, its “other” equity investments were worth $613 million, up from $476.5 million the previous year.

Late last month, Lilly Endowment sold 150,000 shares of Eli Lilly and Co. stock for about $8.8 million, resuming its asset diversification plan that was suspended when stock prices swooned in 2008.

The endowment lost 26 percent of its value in 2008, falling from $7.7 billion to $5.7 billion. It bottomed out at $5.3 billion (2009 and 2010) before posting gains along with the company.

Now the foundation is looking to cash in on the recovery, as officials contemplate selling as much as $500 million in stock in 2014, “with the amount subject to change as the year progresses,” according to a statement released on April 28.

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