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.

This post originally appeared as an op-ed in The Guardian on July 16, 2016.

There is no doubt that the U.S. is suffering from what feels like the unravelling of social order.

In this issue of Washington Snapshot, you'll find:

  • Delayed Release for Hatch Corporate Integration Plan
  • IRS Publishes Regulations for 501(c)(4)s
  • Israel Passes Controversial New 'NGO Transparency Law'
  • The Legal Team is Available to Answer Members' Questions!
  • North Carolina Moves Toward Performance Assessments for State Programs

Read all this and more, online now.

The Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing was released jointly today by the two representative organizations. The study, believed to be the largest of its kind, provides foundations with invaluable insights into how the sector and individual portfolios are being shaped by responsible investing practices, potential hurdles to their adoption, and what the entry points are for those interested in fully engaging these practices in their endowment strategies.

The Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing, believed to be the largest of its kind, provides foundations with invaluable insights into how the sector and individual portfolios are being shaped by responsible investing practices, potential hurdles to their adoption, and what the entry points are for those interested in fully engaging these practices in their endowment strategies.

Last week’s shootings in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas have made more urgent our need for a national civil discussion about longstanding systemic challenges that deeply divide our communities. The Council on Foundations steadfastly denounces the killing of innocent people, no matter their skin color, political position, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. We mourn the lives lost and send our thoughts to their friends and loved ones and to our philanthropic colleagues who serve and lead in the affected communities.

In this Week's Washington Snapshot:

  • Field Signals Support for Preserving DAFs
  • Bill to Restrict Foreign Contributions Introduced in House
  • New Survey Results on Impact of DOL Rules on Nonprofits
  • Trending in Legal Affairs: 'Til DAF Do Us Part, 2.0
  • Happening in the States: New Fiscal Year, Same Old State Fiscal Challenges

Read all this and more, online now.

This webinar will provide members with an opportunity to obtain a detailed understanding of the Overtime Rule directly from the Department of Labor. In addition, the Council’s attorneys will explain how the Rule applies to Foundations and answer some prevalent questions that have surfaced.

Speakers Will Include: 



Justin Aiken
Corporate Cousel
Council on Foundations

Healthy relationships are at the core of any foundation's success. One of the most important relationships is that of the CEO and their Trustees. In a successful relationship, board members are more engaged, management is better aligned, and the mission is advanced. 

The Advocacy Toolkit is designed to be a central resource for Council members and others engaged in the philanthropic space to learn about why it is important—now more than ever—for philanthropy to have a voice in policy, how to effectively use advocacy and lobbying to advance your mission, what the most critical or priority “asks” are for the sector at any given time, and