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.

Philanthropy holds a unique role in American society. Philanthropic leaders and foundations play a significant role fostering vibrant communities across our country. The Council supports this role and regularly brings foundation leaders together to learn and share from each other.

How do the Sustainable Development Goals relate to domestic challenges in the U.S.?

There are significant challenges facing American communities today, including growing domestic inequality and increased poverty. In Arkansas, members of the philanthropic community work in a variety of innovative and collaborative ways to improve quality of life and create sustainable local communities. 

How do the Sustainable Development Goals relate to domestic challenges in the U.S.? 

There are significant challenges facing American communities today, including growing inequality, quality education, access to healthcare, and climate action. In the Bay Area, members of the philanthropic community work in a variety of innovative and collaborative ways to improve quality of life and create sustainable local communities.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

Many foundation staff remain mystified (and enamored) with mission investing and the promise it holds for leveraging foundation resources to support their missions. However, it is clear that many foundations do not fully understand the full complement of mission investing strategies and how to implement them effectively.

This white paper provides a review of critical governance issues that foundations must consider to remain in compliance with prevailing and emerging laws and regulations. Readers can expect content focused on Trustee fiduciary responsibilities as relates to duties of care, loyalty, and responsibility.

This white paper outlines best practices with proven results that foundations can use to find and create a diverse and inclusive staff and investment advisory team. Readers will learn how to make the business case for more diverse and equitable strategies and link success in this area with investment results.

Sherry Magill PhD, Chair of the Board of Directors

I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Rick Cohen. He and I first met in the mid 1990s when he served at national LISC and we were attempting to develop a local LISC chapter in northeast Florida. Over the years, we met annually at the Council's conference, sometimes sharing a drink or coffee and a conversation, sometimes stopping casually in a common area as we did recently  in San Francisco.