Oct. 12, 2018
Contact: Judith Cebula


Lilly Endowment Launches New Phase of

Support for Indiana Community Foundations


INDIANAPOLIS – Lilly Endowment is launching the seventh phase of its Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow initiative (GIFT VII), allocating $125 million to help Indiana community foundations strengthen the towns, cities and counties they serve.  A portion of these resources will be available as matching funds to encourage donors to give to their community foundations; the remaining portion will be in the form of grants to help community foundations be even more effective leaders in their communities.

The Endowment is inviting eligible community foundations in Indiana to apply for grants of $500,000 to $4 million through the Matching Fund Grants component of GIFT VII. The grants vary in size based on the population of the counties the community foundations serve and, as in previous GIFT phases, the grants are designed to encourage residents and others to give generously to grow community foundation endowments and to fund local community needs.  To encourage the engagement of community foundation board members, the Endowment will award unrestricted grants of $100,000 to each community foundation that achieves 100 percent financial support from its board members.

Additionally, community foundations can apply for planning grants of $50,000 to $200,000 (based on county population) through the Community Leadership Grants component of GIFT VII. These planning grants are designed to help community foundations deepen their understanding of key challenges and opportunities in their communities and then prioritize the ones that they are best positioned to address.  Grants of $100,000 to $500,000 (based on county population) will then be awarded to help implement plans to address these priorities.  For especially compelling ideas that emerge from this work, the Endowment may invite selected community foundations to apply in 2020 for grants of up to $5 million to advance these high-impact opportunities. 

The Endowment created GIFT in 1990 to help local communities in Indiana develop the philanthropic capacity to identify and address local needs and challenges. When GIFT began, there were fewer than a dozen community foundations. Today, there are 94 community foundations and affiliate funds making grants to support local charitable organizations in all of Indiana’s 92 counties. The combined community foundation assets have grown from $100 million in 1990 to nearly $3.6 billion at the end of 2017.

“In the 28 years since GIFT began, community foundations have demonstrated their ability to inspire imagination, generosity and commitment among local residents, donors and volunteers,” said Rob Smith, the Endowment’s vice president for community development. “Changing economic and cultural dynamics are presenting both significant challenges and important opportunities for Indiana communities. With GIFT VII, we seek to help community foundations raise resources and further enhance their ability to lead collaborative efforts that improve the quality of life for their residents.”

Matching Fund Grants

Through GIFT VII, community foundations must designate at least two-thirds of their eligible matching grant funding from the Endowment to support the growth of unrestricted endowments, which, over time, provide foundations flexible resources to address local needs strategically. To encourage residents and others to support unrestricted endowments in local communities, the Endowment will provide $2 for every $1 donated for unrestricted endowments during the matching period, October 1, 2018, through December 31, 2020.

Community foundations may choose to designate up to one-third of their matching grants for discretionary purposes. This means they can dedicate a portion of the grants to support their own operating needs or specific community projects. The Endowment will provide 50 cents for every $1 that community foundations raise during the matching period for projects they designate.

Through this component of GIFT VII, the Endowment also is encouraging the personal engagement and philanthropy of members of boards of directors, which the Endowment believes are essential elements of community foundation leadership and success.  The Endowment will provide unrestricted grants to community foundations that receive 100 percent board participation in financial support during GIFT VII. Specifically, each community foundation will be eligible for a $100,000 grant if each of its board members donates at least $500 during an 18-month period.

The Endowment has allocated $76.1 million for Matching Fund Grants, including the board participation incentive.

Community Leadership Grants

In addition to the Matching Fund Grants component, the Endowment will make grants to help each community foundation explore how it can effectively play a leadership role in its local community. Through GIFT VII’s Community Leadership Grants component, the Endowment is offering three opportunities for community foundations to apply for funding:  planning grants, implementation grants and grants for compelling ideas for larger scale impact.

  • Community foundations can apply for planning grants of between $50,000 and $200,000 (based on county population). This funding is meant to enable community foundations to evaluate their local landscapes and identify and prioritize community needs and assets, develop a deeper understanding of what their roles should be within the community, strengthen relationships with local stakeholders and potential collaborators, build internal capacities to act as an effective leader, and prioritize and develop strategies to address high-priority challenges and opportunities.
  • Community foundations can then choose to submit an implementation proposal for grants of between $100,000 and $500,000 (based on county population) to implement strategic initiatives and programs designed to address key challenges or opportunities identified and prioritized during the planning process.
  • The Endowment recognizes that there may be compelling ideas that arise out of the planning process that would require funding in excess of the implementation grant amounts noted above. Each community foundation is invited to submit a concept paper describing how it would use up to $5 million to respond to an especially compelling challenge or opportunity. At their discretion, community foundations can propose a concept in collaboration with other community foundations to address challenges or opportunities that affect more than one county or a region. The Endowment will invite community foundations with the most compelling ideas to submit full proposals.

The Endowment has allocated $48.9 million for the Community Leadership Grants component of GIFT VII.

As in previous GIFT phases, Indiana Philanthropy Alliance (IPA) will provide technical assistance to community foundations across the state as they apply for matching fund grants and leadership planning and implementation grants.  This technical assistance is made possible by an Endowment grant to the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance Foundation. Learn more about IPA at