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).

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Slide presentation that covers:

  • An overview of the development and use of Mission and Values statements
  • Development of Mission statements for family foundations
  • Development of Values statements for family foundations
  • Applying Mission and Values statements

By Sybil Hite of The Hite Foundation

By William Graustein of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund

By Sally Bowles of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation

By Merede Graham of the the Namaste Foundation

Not necessarily. While some family foundations prefer that all trustees be family members, others find that a few outside voices can enrich the process


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