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.

When my colleague and fellow attorney Lara Kalwinski, Senior Counsel for Policy and Compliance and Executive Director of National Standards, and I both came to the Council on Foundations in 2013, we each had extensive experience with the Council’s books, newsletters, and other legal publications. In fact, we both relied heavily on these resources in our previous positions.

Realizing that it was time to begin updating them to incorporate changes in the law and other new information, Lara and I began to brainstorm about the best ways to deliver the information to our members.

The Council on Foundations, a member of the Global NPO Coalition on FATF, applauds the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recent update to its counter-terrorism recommendation on NPOs, specifically grantmakers.

This post originally appeared as an op-ed in The Chronicle of Philanthropy on June 24, 2016 with the title "Brexit Vote Will Force Philanthropy to Tackle Many Tough Issues."

The vote for Britain to exit the European Union took philanthropy and the rest of the world by surprise. But it raises tough new questions about how grant makers should respond to political and financial turmoil and uncertainty.

I started this blog post earlier in the month to recognize June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ)* Pride Month, but the tragedy in Orlando rightly caused the Council and my blog post to change course. As June comes to a close, it seems fitting to celebrate the LGBTQ community and the steps which our society has taken on its journey toward full equality.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

The second chapter of the Council’s full 2015 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Report provides extensive data on staff and salaries. In it, we offer tables on everything from the size of responding foundations to the diversity and salaries of their full-time staff and the tenure and turnover of various staff members. Later chapters also feature extensive salary data, but this chapter focuses on CEOs and program officers in particular.

Get the Report