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.

The Council on Foundations’ Foundation Management Series provides foundation boards and staff with the tools needed to benchmark their practices and operations against peers in the field. Containing data from the Council’s 2009 Foundation Management survey, the series consists of three reports: Board Composition and Compensation, Administrative and Investment Expenses, and Fiscal Oversight.

The Council conducted the foundation management survey in March 2010 in cooperation with the Foundation Center. Respondents were asked to provide information on their boards' demographics, compensation and reimbursement practices, liability insurance, ethics policies, and information on their foundations' administrative expenses and fiscal oversight. All reports in the series provide detailed breakdowns of survey data by foundation type and asset size.

The Council on Foundations’ Foundation Management Series provides foundation boards and staff with the tools needed to benchmark their practices and operations against peers in the field. Containing data from the Council’s 2009 Foundation Management survey, the series will consist of three reports: Board Composition and Compensation, Administrative and Investment Expenses, and Fiscal Oversight.

This report offers the most comprehensive information available on staff composition and compensation for U.S. foundations. It contains salaries for 34 full-time positions; allows grantmakers to benchmark compensation against their peers by foundation type, asset size, and region; and offers extensive information on benefits policies and practices such as health care premiums by plan type.

The 2012 Grantmakers Salary Tables provide aggregate information on U.S. foundation staff salaries and benefits. Free to participants and Council members and $79 for nonmembers, these tables present information on 34 staff positions across multiple foundation types (community, private, operating, and other), asset sizes and geographic regions. Tables provide the mean, median, range, 25th and 75th percentiles. These tables are included as Chapter 6 in the full 2012 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Report.

Members can now download the 2012 Council on Foundations–Commonfund Study of Investments for Private Foundations through the Council store. We are making this resource available to our members at no cost (a $750 value), so be sure to get your copy today.

More and more grantmakers are adopting online board portals to expedite the flow of information between the chief executive, staff, and the board.

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