Family Foundations

The Council on Foundations defines a family foundation as one whose funds are derived from members of a single family, though this is not a legal term and has no precise definition. The Council on Foundations suggests that family foundations have at least one family member serving as an officer or board member of the foundation and, as the donor, that individual (or a relative) must play a significant role in governing and/or managing the foundation. Most family foundations are run by family members who serve as trustees or directors on a voluntary basis. In many cases, second- and third-generation descendants of the original donors manage the foundation.

Family foundations make up over half of all private (family, corporate, independent, and operating) foundations, or 40,456 out of approximately 73,764 foundations (Foundation Center, 2011). Family foundations make up approximately one-third of the Council’s membership.

Family foundations range in asset size from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 billion. The holdings of family foundations total approximately $294 billion, or about 44 percent of all foundation holdings of $662 billion. Despite this, three out of five family foundations hold assets of less than $1 million. Family foundations gave away approximately $21.3 billion in grants in 2011 (The Foundation Center, 2011).

Below is everything on our site for family foundations. You can use the filtering options on the right to narrow these results.

According to published reports there are some 80,000 foundations in the United States. They collectively expend more than $50 billion each year for charitable purposes. The IRS expects foundation managers to be conversant with the statutes and regulations as they discharge their governance and fiduciary obligations. However, the rules are exceedingly complex, resulting in an unrealistic expectation that all too often is not met.

The year I was born, 1963, being gay was officially deemed a mental illness by the medical establishment. Same-sex relationships were illegal in every state, save Illinois. The federal government maintained a policy that prohibited the hiring of "known perverts,” then referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

What a long way we have come to today, the day marriage equality was deemed the law of the land by the highest court in our nation.

Social change transpires at a blistering pace, in both promising and discouraging trajectories.  After growing up in isolation in South Dakota and cutting my teeth decades ago as an LGBTQ human rights activist, I’m gob-smacked and elated by today’s Supreme Court decision.

This decision is historic for what it accomplished: it righted a wrong. It’s also momentous for what it represents. Empathy. Courage. Equality. Progress.

This article originally appeared on the D5 coalition blog, on 18 June 2015. The original article can be found here.

The fabric of Foundations funding human services forms a rich mosaic with themes as diverse as housing, education, employment, social justice issues, physical and public health.  The thread that interconnects with all of these is the mental health of the individuals and communities who are targets for support and improvement.  It can be a complicated puzzle.

This week, Stan Katz, Benjamin Soskis and Maribel Morey released HistPhil, a new blog that focuses on both “the studying of history and the making of history”. The blog is a result of the co-founders insight that philanthropy as a whole has much to gain from studying its past. The founders hope that the blog will lead to new understanding of how current philanthropic issues can be resolved by studying the past. The organizers hope to bring together both scholars and changemakers in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.

Building Successful Collaborations in Philanthropy

This morning, Council President and CEO Vikki Spruill helped launch a new platform on the Huffington Post that highlights important developments and leading thinkers on social innovation. The blog features thoughts from leaders such as Clara Miller of the F.B. Heron Foundation and Maria Rodale of the Rodale Institute. 

While the globalization of markets has dispersed investments around the world, we’ve hatched a plan to bring capital back to our communities in a transparent, coordinated, and collaborative way. I’m excited to announce Canopy, an innovative, member-owned, for-benefit company designed to advance regional investing—at scale.

In this week's Washington Snapshot: 

On May 30, David Callahan, editor of Inside Philanthropy, published a short-sighted opinion piece on philanthropy in the New York Times. Given its reach, the Council believed that the piece warranted a strong and united response.