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.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Act of 2010 authorizes funding for federal nutrition programs including:

  • the national school lunch and breakfast program;
  • the nutrition program for women, infants, and children;
  • and other child and adult food care programs.

This legislation expires September 30 and the programs are currently under scrutiny by Congress. In this Policy Preview, the Food Research and Action Center will give an overview of Congressional deliberations and a prognosis for passage.

On September 25th at the United Nations, 193 countries ratified the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of global targets that will serve as a new global framework for how governments, philanthropy, non-profits, and the private sector can work together to address challenges all of us and the communities we serve face on a local and global scale. Council staff have been participating in conversations about achieving these goals and philanthropy’s critical role in this endeavor.

In philanthropy we’ve long known that we play a unique role by addressing society’s most pressing challenges at their root. Our work is distinct from charity – focused less on meeting immediate needs and more on tackling the underlying causes. And we’re well positioned to take risks to figure out what strategies work best to solve social problems, something that companies and other players beholden to greater political and consumer pressures can’t always do.

In 2012, the Department of Treasury and the IRS issued proposed regulations applicable to private foundations seeking to make grants to foreign organizations using equivalency determinations. At the time, the Council submitted comments in support of the rules, and urged Treasury and the IRS to consider making additional clarifications to the rules that apply to international grantmaking.

As society continues to struggle with issues such as police-related violence, housing inequalities, health care reform, and threats to national and international security (just to name a few), philanthropy has been challenged to re-evaluate its long held role as convener to potentially adopt a different role in serving the public good.

In the last year, there has been a spike in the number of refugees fleeing into Europe. There are still three-and-a-half months left in 2015, but the number of arriving refugees this year is already more than double the amount from all of 2014. The camps and centers that some refugees are forced to stay in are overcrowded and often lack food, water and other basic necessities.

It’s an ever-clear sky today. Just as it was in 2001. And yet ever-clear and jet trails slicing September blue-skies then are now reminders, important ones, of the events of 9/11 and the losses and learnings we have experienced since.

Reminders of those we mourn can help us grieve.  Public memorials serve to both remind us who we mourn – may we never forget – and the very ideals we collectively honor.  While beacons of light illuminate an ever-shifting New York skyline, there is another memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania that has its own story. 

NOTE: This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

As a boy, I remember reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with my first grade class. We said it in unison; we stood together; and over time we came to understand what it meant.

As I got older, I would listen to the recorded voice of a young President at his Inaugural, who summoned a generation to think less of themselves and more of their country.