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.

Blessed are the family foundations graced with harmonious board interaction, for they may be focused on their grantmaking. Running through case studies in preparation for our session at this month’s Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference in San Jose, I am struck by the power of a grantmaking program rooted in community ties, family values, well-researched issue areas, and long-term strategic planning. Free from family governance issues, these grantmaking case studies focus outward on communities, programs, and execution.

Despite having a steady job, a mom in South Carolina, who hopes to help her daughter go to college, cannot afford to pay rent in the city in which she works. A promising entrepreneur in Wisconsin has a great idea to improve his community but cannot get the loan needed to get his business off the ground. All over the country and globe, individuals aspire to live a comfortable life and contribute to their families and communities. Many circumstances contribute to the financial barriers that keep these individuals from achieving their dreams.

This infographic from the Charitable Giving Coalition shows why a cap on charitable deductions would undermine giving and have long-lasting consequences for all Americans.

From Mission Investors Exchange, 2012

What does Jeremy Lin have to do with the future of philanthropy?

When LINsanity comes to philanthropy from The Nathan Cummings Foundation on Vimeo.

I just returned from the Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference in Miami, a three-day event focused on education, the arts, impact investing, advocacy and family dynamics. Amidst all of that great discussion, I was struck again by the importance of communicating family legacy.

A family’s beliefs, behaviors and messages are carried down through generations, and how this happens does matter.

I had the privilege this week to join my first Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference. It was a remarkable gathering of some 600 philanthropic leaders and advisers from across the U.S. and international Foundations. The program and various highlights are detailed on the conference website.

I had the pleasure of presenting as part of a panel on social media at the Council on Foundations’ Family Philanthropy Conference in Miami. The session, “Tools of Engagement: Family Dynamics and Social Networking,” covered social networking as a critical piece of a foundation’s communications strategy.  

Same-sex spouses, life partners, adopted children, second marriages, religious conservatives, political liberals. Today’s families are increasingly diverse and families with foundations are no exception. The changing nature of your family may be creating challenges to harmonious and effective governance. Fortunately, the experience of other foundations is a laboratory of solutions.

This past week marked my first experience attending the national Council on Foundation’s annual Family Philanthropy Conference. I found myself wearing multiple hats-representing the Council on Foundations as a board member, as well as SWIF, our region and our donors. I found the many conversations and connections I’ve had this week to be incredibly valuable for southwest Minnesota and SWIF’s entire family of donors.

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