Report finds Lilly Endowment down more than peers
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The fortunes of the Lilly Endowment declined again in 2009, dropping an estimated $1 billion in what a new report says is the largest percentage decline among the nation's largest foundations.
The Indianapolis-based endowment is heavily invested in drug maker Eli Lilly & Co. stock, which has seen steep declines in the past decade.
The report published this week by The Chronicle of Philanthropy said the endowment saw a 15 percent decline to an estimated $4.8 billion for last year, during which time the S&P stock index gained more than 19 percent.
The endowment awards hundreds of millions of dollars in grants in Indiana and across the country each year. Endowment spokeswoman Gretchen Wolfram said it won't release its 2009 grants total until next month, but she said she was certain "it won't be as much as the year before."
Cuts in giving at Lilly Endowment have been made across the board, but Wolfram said she didn't know about any programs that lost all of its grant funding.
"I'm sure there are some special project requests that we didn't accept," she said.
Lilly Endowment holds about 95 percent of its assets in Eli Lilly and Co. stock.
The company's stock has lost almost 70 percent of its value since peaking in 2000 before the drug maker lost patent protection for its anti-depression drug Prozac. At the time, Lilly Endowment was worth $15.6 billion, second only to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The endowment announced plans in 2007 to diversify its holdings by selling $2 billion of Lilly stock, but it has sold only $390 million in shares so far.
Only two other foundations on the report's Top 10 list lost value in 2009, with the Ford Foundation's assets dropping 6 percent and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation down 13 percent. The Gates Foundation increased its assets by 13 percent, to $33.9 billion.
The Lilly Endowment's grant to Indiana charities last year included $7.3 million to the Indianapolis Parks Foundation, $5.7 million to the Indiana Association of United Ways and $1.1 million to the Indianapolis Zoo.
The Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership, which provides training education and counseling for potential homeowners and foreclosure prevention assistance, saw its grants from Lilly increase by $1 million to $6.3 million, partnership spokeswoman Amy Wiser said.
"We keep doing what we do, and if that makes us relevant (to Lilly), that's good," she said.
The Indiana University Foundation, which has an endowment of $1.2 billion, has made staff cuts and restricted travel to curtail costs. IU Foundation President Gene Tempel said all foundations and charities are ailing.
"It took a little longer for foundations to be hit by the economy because they lag behind due to their commitments," Tempel said. "And they will be a little later coming out of it when the economy improves."