What Lilly Did To Let Employees Prioritize Disaster Relief

The Eli Lilly and Company Foundation lets employees invest in causes they care about. In this success story, you’ll learn more about their top concern—rapid disaster response in the places they live and work.



Offer efficient employee giving options

The Eli Lilly and Company Foundation is a tax-exempt, private foundation established by the global pharmaceutical company in 1968. The foundation awards cash grants for philanthropic initiatives aligned with the company’s corporate responsibility priorities. For the foundation, involving its employees in giving strategies is a central component of its mission to improve the lives of people in low and middle-income countries.


A custom giving website

In 2011, Lilly partnered with GlobalGiving to build a custom giving website for its international giving program, which allows Lilly employees from anywhere in the world to donate to vetted international charities within Lilly’s five philanthropic focus areas: health, hunger, environment, education, and disaster. Employees are able to support local nonprofits in the communities where they operate if they so desire, and the foundation matches all employee donations of $25 or more. The organization’s collective prioritization of disaster recovery is remarkable. About 65% of all Lilly donations made through GlobalGiving are designated for disaster recovery projects, a ratio that stands in stark contrast to average corporate disaster giving, which hovered at 2% in a 2016 survey. The efficiency of the Lilly system is also noteworthy. When disaster strikes, related projects are highlighted within the employee giving portal. Corporate communications often go out to all employees internally after a major disaster with a link to associated projects, and the Lilly match is automatically added to eligible donations, without the need for additional coordination by employees.


The freedom to choose

Having an existing infrastructure for disaster giving with the ability to feature vetted charities in virtually any disaster-affected area has reduced the administrative burden on the Lilly Foundation and increased local giving choices for employees in regions where Lilly operates. Employee generosity also correlates to region of operation. For example, when Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, where Lilly has an office, Lilly employees were especially generous, making close to 1,000 donations totaling $160,000 with the foundation match.

This success story is part of “The Future of Disaster Philanthropy,” a GlobalGiving research paper published in partnership with The Conference Board.

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Learn more about GlobalGiving’s disaster response services for companies and foundations.

Featured Photo: Lilly employees have funded disaster relief projects like this one, which provided emergency healthcare to survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines by IsraAID.

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