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.

Leaders from 42 foundations announced today that they have “banned the box” by adopting fair chance hiring policies or ensuring that questions about criminal convictions do not appear on applications for employment with their foundations. They also issued a challenge to all U.S. philanthropic institutions to follow suit and eliminate barriers to employment for people with arrest and conviction records.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

  • This Week in Tax Reform...;
  • Congress Grows More Skeptical of Universities;
  • FASB Seeks Foundation Input;
  • Single Portal Filing Project Seeks Information;
  • Accepting Promissory Notes and Other Debt Instruments;
  • Giving Incentives on State Legislative Agendas.

Read all this and more, online now!

This year Philanthropy Week kicked off with the Council’s Annual Conference and continued through the week with a host of activities. The conference theme—The Future of Community: Identity. Purpose. Place.—provided a timely and resonant backdrop for Philanthropy Week activities.


Tuesday, April 12


8:15 am–11:45 am

Breakfast to be served at 7:45 am

Recap of Winter Retreat for Foundation CEOs

Executive Summary
“If You Can Make It Here, You Can Make It Anywhere":
How the Sustainable Development Goals connect local challenges to worldwide efforts

There are significant challenges facing American communities today, including growing domestic inequality and increased poverty. In New York, members of the philanthropic community work in a variety of innovative and collaborative ways to improve quality of life and create sustainable local communities. 

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

  • News from the Hill;
  • IRS Releases Proposed Rules for Supporting Organizations;
  • Philanthropy Weighs in on Pennsylvania Budget Impasse;
  • South Carolina, Connecticut Announce New Pay for Success Deals.

Read all this and more, online now!

On February 19, 2016, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations regarding the prohibition on certain contributions to Type I and Type III supporting organizations and the requirements for Type III supporting organizations. 

2016 Global Philanthropy Dinner - Uprooted Communities: Our Global Migration Challenge

The 2016 Annual Global Philanthropy Dinner will provide a space for conference attendees to meet and connect before the full conference begins on Sunday. Dinner will feature a number of leading experts who will discuss how the global migration challenge is impacting communities around the world, the root causes and challenges that have led to growing migration flows, and what role philanthropy can play when responding to this crisis.

The panel discussion will feature:

This webinar was postponed but will be rescheduled. Check back here for updates.

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.