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.

Modern life is full of data—a lot of data. Sometimes it feels simply overwhelming. And that’s especially true in the philanthropic sector. It can feel like our work is simply an endless string of profiles, templates, accounts, applications, and reports. If we aren’t thoughtful about it, the flow of data in philanthropy could be a barrier to effectiveness instead of a way to amplify our impact.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

  • Hearing on Tax Reform Proposals Set for Next Week;
  • Machine-Readable Forms 990 Soon to be Available to Public;
  • Correcting a Fund Agreement;
  • The Challenges of State Budget Crises on Foundations, Nonprofit Missions;
  • Lessons Learned When a Nonprofit Closes its Doors;
  • Foundations and Social Movements.

Read all this and more, online now!

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

  • Chairman of House Veterans' Affairs Committee to Retire from Congress;
  • IRS Issues Procedure to Gather from Sector;
  • Agency Funds: Invading Principal when Third Party Donors are Involved;
  • Positive News on Proactive Nonprofit Legislation;
  • Charitable Giving Coalition Releases Statement on Clinton Tax Plan.

Read all this and more, online now!

Everything you need to know about foundation law in one easy-to-use, regularly updated guide

The Council on Foundations's Compendium of Legal Resources (“Compendium”), is a comprehensive guide to foundation law for the non-lawyer. It is easy to use, self-directed, and regularly updated.

The Council on Foundations partnered with the National Human Services Assembly to provide our members access to the PurchasingPoint® program. PurchasingPoint® is an exclusive discount program for nonprofits that leverages group buying power to access significant savings from your vendors you use every day.

When my grandparents, Sam and Helen Walton, set the course for our family’s philanthropic vision in the late 1980s, they set out to make lasting change by empowering individuals. My grandfather often said there is no limit to what can be accomplished when people are given opportunity and incentive, and my grandmother reinforced that giving back was the most important undertaking our family could do together.