Lilly challenge good opportunity to donate

Daily Journal

Johnson County has the chance to win the lottery. Well, sort of. We have the chance to bring $1 million to the Johnson County Community Foundation. All we need to do is match that amount by March 2016.

The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment has issued a challenge to the foundation: It will match dollar for dollar contributions to the foundation, up to $1 million.

If the full amount were raised, it would allow the foundation to give out as much as $80,000 more per year to local programs and organizations, according to a news release from the foundation. Grants go to schools, nonprofit organizations and local programs for a variety of worthwhile endeavors.

The matching grant provides great incentive for the foundation to raise more money locally between now and the deadline, officials said.

Johnson County Community Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Gail Richards said any money the community foundation raises toward the matching grant will be invested. The foundation invests all of its endowment money and awards grants out of the investment returns. If it can raise $1 million locally, then with the match it will have $2 million to add to the foundation’s investment portfolio of about $20 million in assets, Richards said.

Based on recent investment returns, the $2 million in additional investment could bring an additional $80,000 in yearly returns, which could then be given out in yearly grants, she said.

The Johnson County Community Foundation has awarded $12 million in grants and scholarships since it was founded nearly 25 years ago, in areas including education, health research, arts, community development and agriculture.

The matching grant is part of the Lilly Endowment’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow initiative that encourages foundations to invest their funds similar to the way the Johnson County Community Foundation does.

By only making distributions based on the investment return, the foundation ensures it will be able to keep supporting causes in the community, Richards said.

“Their focus is to want foundations to build savings for the sake of grant-making in the future. The way we do this, in theory, your donation will last forever,” she said.

The Lilly Endowment challenge offers an exciting opportunity for the community foundation to bolster its permanent endowment, which, as Richards said, will enhance the community for many years to come.

But to claim this lottery prize, we need to buy a ticket, so to speak, by making contributions to the foundation. So we call upon individuals, businesses and organizations to help make this investment in Johnson County’s future possible.

At issue

The Lilly Endowment has offered a challenge to the Johnson County Community Foundation.

Our point

To earn a $1 million, the foundation needs our help raising a matching amount.

On the Web

The Johnson County Community Foundation website is The site includes information on program and directions on donating.