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.

Map of the world depicting where civic freedoms are threatened

Map of the world depicting where civic freedoms are threatened (green is open; red is closed). For those interested in social justice, democracy, and rights around the world, 2016 was an annus horribilis.


In this week's Washington Snapshot:

A great example of a foundation that has already been active in reaching out to their members in the 115th Congress is the Adirondack Foundation. Click here to see their example of a letter to the Congresswoman representing their district!

At the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, we’ve been talking about how to deal with minor successors being named on a fund. We started looking into it after reading a discussion about it on the Philanthropy Exchange. It’s a tricky situation: If your fund adviser is underage, they may not be in a position to correctly advise.

Today is World AIDS Day — a time for people all over the globe to remember those we have lost to HIV and to recommit ourselves to ending the AIDS epidemic once and for all. On this day, the Council on Foundations salutes the many individuals and organizations united in the fight against HIV and working to improve the lives of people living with HIV. The Levi Strauss Foundation is among those organizations working to put an end to the AIDS epidemic.

Hundreds of stories are amplified by the minute during #GivingTuesday. The global and social movement captures the hearts, minds, and spirits of many who look to philanthropy on this day.

On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday puts the focus back on the giving season by harnessing the potential of social media to bring about positive change in communities and inspire more acts of kindness.

Following up on the webinar we presented in August on the overtime rule that was issued by the Department of Labor in May, we wanted to inform the field that a federal judge in Texas has issued a nationwide injunction to halt the implementation of this rule.

The Council on Foundations today announced that the nomination period for its 2017 Awards Program is open now through January 18, 2017.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

  • Updates from the Council
  • Congressional Leadership Falling into Place
  • State and Local Election Results
  • Pennsylvania Legislator Seeks to Legislate Discredited "Overhead Ratio"

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

  • The Election Results are in... So What Does all of This Mean for Philanthropy?
  • Voters Approve Ballot Measures on Minimum Wage, Campaign Finance
  • Experience in the States on Caps to Charitable Giving Incentives