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.

As I've read and watched others' reflections on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's destruction of a great American city, I'm compelled to tell some of my story. New Orleans is not a place where I practice grant making or convening, but it is a place near and dear to my heart, one I've visited for over forty years -- Mardi Gras, Halloween, Christmas, the New Year, jazz fest, Sugar Bowl, Council on Foundations' conferences. I have celebrated all of these in New Orleans.

This piece was originally published in the Los Angeles Times on August 16, 2015.

Bipartisan consensus around criminal justice reform is growing nationally with more foundations increasing their efforts to change the way we think about prisons and public safety. As this issue continues to gain momentum, we ask how can philanthropy take a leadership role in reforming the criminal justice system in America?

Join the Council on Foundations for a Twitter Chat, Wednesday, August 26 from 12-1 PM ET, as we explore these important questions together.

Last week, I got to see philanthropy in action on a great trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan. After just a few days of meeting with philanthropic leaders in Western Michigan, I had new energy, new ideas, and more proof that collaboration is driving the field forward.

I was grateful to have been invited by Diana Sieger, President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, to see its work in action.  I got to tour the city and learn about philanthropic projects around the area. I learned about collaborative efforts like:

The Council actively asserts its leadership role in the global policy space to ensure a positive regulatory environment for global philanthropy. To do that, the Council develops substantive policy positions on behalf of its members and submits regulatory comments and letters to U.S. policymakers, foreign governments and intergovernmental bodies, and advocates before domestic and international bodies that set policies that impact cross-border philanthropy.