Lilly Endowment assets ebb in 2016 as it grants $452.8M

After several years in which the value of its assets swelled, philanthropic giant Lilly Endowment Inc. watched its coffers shrink 12.7 percent in 2016 from about $11.8 billion to $10.3 billion.

Over the course of 2016, the endowment paid grants totaling $452.8 million, the majority of which were issued to Indiana-based organizations, according to the group’s annual report released on Monday.

The loss in total assets largely can be attributed to a drop in the stock price of Eli Lilly and Co., whose shares make up the vast majority of the endowment’s assets. From the end of 2015 to the end of 2016, the share price ebbed 12.7 percent from $84.26 to $73.55.

Lilly Endowment is one of the largest grant-making foundations in the United States, and concentrates its giving to the causes of community development, education and religion.

Of the $452.8 million in grants paid in 2016, 46 percent flowed to community development, 33 percent to religion, and 21 percent to education.

About two-thirds of the grants (68 percent) were paid to organizations in Indiana, and 37 percent of the total ($166.7 million) went to grantees in Marion County.

In 2016, the endowment approved grants of $10 million to the Indiana Historical Society, $10 million to the John H. Boner Community Center; $7.5 million to Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center; and separate $5 million grants to several social service groups including Horizon House, Flanner House of Indianapolis, and Edna Martin Christian Center.

The endowment's investments also generated significant income in 2016, including about $282 million in dividends and interest.

From 2010 to 2015, the endowment’s assets were on the rise. They closed at $5.3 billion in 2010, and grew to $11.8 billion by year-end 2015.

The increase mirrored a rise in the value of Lilly shares as the pharmaceutical maker recovered from the Great Recession and made progress developing new treatments to replace revenue from drugs in its portfolio losing patent protection.

The endowment was founded in 1937 with gifts of Lilly stock by three members of the Lilly family—J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Lilly Jr. and Eli. The endowment is a separate entity from the pharmaceutical maker with a distinct governing board, staff and location.

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