Lilly Endowment receives several thousand grant requests each year, but we can fund only a small percentage of many worthwhile proposals. These guidelines, formulated over the years by our founders and the Endowment's Board of Directors, govern our grantmaking decisions.
Areas of interest
We consider proposals in three program areas: community development, education and religion. We also are interested in initiatives that benefit youth and that promote the causes of philanthropy and volunteerism.
Our community development grantmaking focuses primarily on enhancing the quality of life in Indianapolis and Indiana. We grant funds for human and social needs, central-city and neighborhood revitalization, low-income housing, and arts and culture in Indianapolis.
On a statewide level, we routinely offer initiatives to support community foundations and United Ways.
Our education grantmaking revolves primarily around our interest in improving education in Indiana, with special emphasis on higher education and on programs designed to increase the percentage of Indiana residents with bachelor's degrees. We support a number of invitational grant programs, many of which are aimed at Indiana's colleges' and universities' abilities to increase the state's educational attainment level.
We also support on an invitational basis programs that enhance higher education opportunities for African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans throughout the country.
Our primary aim in this field is to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians, principally by supporting efforts to encourage, support and educate a new generation of talented pastors and to strengthen current pastors in their capacities for excellence in ministry.
We seek to help congregations be vibrant, healthy communities of faith, and we encourage efforts that make available and accessible the wisdom of the Christian tradition for contemporary life. We support theological seminaries and other educational and religious institutions that share these aims. We also support projects that strengthen the contributions that religious ideas, practices, values and institutions make to the common good of our society.
Youth and Philanthropy
Besides grantmaking in our three principal areas of community development, education and religion, the Endowment also awards grants in support of youth development and to advance and study philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.
Our youth grants support direct-service organizations in Marion County, Ind., build the capacity of intermediary organizations throughout the state, and provide professional development for the staffs and volunteer leadership of these organizations.
Regarding philanthropy, we seek to support and nurture good stewardship among the trustees and executives of charitable organizations by providing occasional funding for research on the governance and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. We also support efforts to advance philanthropy by supporting selective research projects and educational programs focused on charitable giving and fundraising.
In keeping with the founders' wishes, the Endowment gives priority to efforts that improve the quality of life in Indianapolis and Indiana.
This priority applies to grants for community development and elementary/secondary education. Exceptions include occasional funding for national programs that complement or relate to our work in Indiana.
The Endowment's interest in higher education extends to Indiana colleges and universities and nationwide to historically black colleges and Native American colleges and programs to increase access to college by Hispanic Americans. Grants to institutions of higher learning outside Indiana generally are restricted to programs offered by the Endowment on an invitational basis.
Our work in religion is national in scope, as is our support relating to philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.
Grants for international purposes are limited to a few United States-based economics and public policy programs affecting North and South American countries.
The Endowment generally does not support the following:
If you believe your charitable organization has a request that fits within our guidelines, we suggest that you write us a preliminary letter of no more than two pages. The letter should tell us about your organization, the project you have in mind and the amount of support you will need from us. We respond in writing to all preliminary inquiries. In cases that warrant further consideration, we may ask you to furnish a full proposal. E-mailed or faxed requests will not be considered.
For arts and cultural organizations in Marion County, Ind. -- Several local grantmaking foundations have collaborated on the development of a shared grant application form. This form was developed in consultation with leaders of local arts and cultural organizations with a goal of making fundraising efforts more efficient. The Shared Grant Application Form should be used to apply for general operating support. For specific project requests, the Project Grant Attachment Form should be completed along with the Shared Grant Application Form. While Lilly Endowment will accept these shared forms from local arts and cultural organizations, applicants are not required to use them, and the Endowment reserves the right to request additional information. Applications should be submitted in hard copy to the attention of Dick Ristine, program director. Links to the forms are below.
A program director generally reviews grant proposals. Those that meet the criteria for consideration proceed to the appropriate division for review, then to the corporate officers, and finally to members of the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors considers grants in March, June, September, November and December. The grant review process takes three to six months. All grantseekers receive written notification of our decisions.
Please mail correspondence to: