Lilly Endowment sees jump in assets after tough 2016

After a tough 2016 in which its assets shrank by nearly 13 percent, the Lilly Endowment bounced back in 2017.

According to its latest annual report, the Indianapolis-based philanthropic giant saw its assets rise from $10.3 billion on Dec. 31, 2016, to $11.7 billion on Dec. 31, 2017—an increase of 13.6 percent.

The gain largely can be attributed to the rise in the stock price of Eli Lilly and Co., whose shares make up the vast majority of the endowment’s assets. Lilly’s share price rose about 13.2 percent in 2017.

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 $445.7 million in grants paid in 2017, 46 percent flowed to community development, 30 percent went to education and 24 percent went to religion.

More than two-thirds of the grants (70 percent) were paid to organizations in Indiana, and 35 percent of the total ($154.4 million) went to grantees in Marion County.        

The endowment approved 1,062 grants in 2017 for a total of $537.8 million to 788 grantees, with 301 of those new to the Endowment.

The endowment approved donations of nearly $50 million to the Indiana University Foundation, with $25 million pegged for the Indiana Collaborative Initiative for Talent Enrichment and almost $15 million earmarked for the renovation of the Madame Walker Theater Center.

Other big grants approved in 2017 included $38 million for the 16 Tech development in Indianapolis; $19.5 million for the Northwest Central Indiana Community Partnership; $12.5 million for the Salvation Army for disaster relief; $11.5 million for the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis; $10.2 million for the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership Foundation; and $10.5 million for the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Approved for $10 million grants were the Children’s Bureau Foundation, American National Red Cross, Damar Services, Crossroads Rehabilitation Center, Noble Indiana, Young Actors Theatre and the International African American Museum.

Outside of 2016, the endowment has seen its financial condition improve throughout this decade. From 2010 to 2015, the its assets were on the rise. They closed at $5.3 billion in 2010, and grew to $11.8 billion by year-end 2015.

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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