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 issue brief from the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) details the motivations, benefits, considerations and suitable scenarios behind the use of catalytic first-loss capital in impact investing transactions. Catalytic first-loss capital refers to socially- and environmentally-driven credit enhancement provided by an investor or grant-maker who agrees to bear first losses in an investment in order to catalyze the participation of co-investors that otherwise would not have entered the deal.

The Impact Investor Project was established in 2012 as a two-year research partnership between InSight at Pacific Community Ventures, CASE at Duke University, and ImpactAssets. The goal was simple: supplant the guesswork and conjecture in impact investing with solid evidence of high performance and, in the process, expose the concrete practices of outstanding funds for use as the foundation for a more sophisticated and successful market.

In this report the World Economic Forum Investors Industries consulted the senior most decision-makers and portfolio managers of the largest and most innovative investors in the world; this facilitated a more realistic vantage point on the challenges in scaling the sector. Working with this group was also instrumental in raising awareness and knowledge among key stakeholders for taking impact investing from the margins into the mainstream.

From Grantmakers in Health, Guide to Impact Investing provides an overview of what impact investing is and how it may enhance foundation work, steps to plan and implement an impact investing program, a spectrum of investment options, and challenges that may arise along the way.

Council on Foundations president and CEO Vikki Spruill and several Council members met with Congressional leaders today to deliver the important message that changes to the charitable tax deduction would diminish its value and have an undeniably negative impact on communities across the United States. Reductions in the charitable tax deduction would result in diminished support for health and human services, fewer nonprofit jobs, a reduction in research and development capacity, less educational opportunity, cuts to art funding, and decreases in economic development.  

The Council on Foundations today announced the first members of its network team, which will facilitate the flow of information and ideas across the philanthropic sector. The network team will connect members around common issues of concern, connect our members to outside resources across sectors, and —if necessary— build new products and services.

This sample matching gift policy can be easily customized for your foundation's use.  

Learn about grants made by U.S.-based foundations to international recipients. This online mapping tool contains in-depth data, such as grant details and financials, allowing you to customize the information to suit your needs. The Cross-Border Giving Map is an exclusive member benefit from the Council on Foundations and the Foundation Center.

To access the Map of Cross-Border Giving:

A video series featuring leaders sharing their insights about their organizational journey to become more diverse and inclusive and lessons learned along the way. All videos are close captioned.