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.

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The policy issues that impact philanthropy are wide-ranging. The Council’s team of policy and legal experts regularly monitors and tracks proposals impacting individual giving incentives, tax code provisions that impact the business operations of foundations, IRS regulatory proposals, Administrative actions, policies affecting cross-border philanthropy, public-philanthropic partnership developments, and much more.

Our issue pages include the latest developments on policies that will impact your foundation’s work, including:

Please join Council on Foundations members and others within the Southern California philanthropic community for a unique program to learn about the opportunities and challenges affecting the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors at a local, state, and federal levels as the 2016 election cycle gets underway.

Learn more about how you can maximize the Council's network to further enhance your work in the field. Senior leaders from the Council discussed additional services, initiatives, and updates that have an impact on the larger philanthropic community and Council members.

As my boss and Blackbaud CEO Mike Gianoni noted, “#GivingTuesday has gone from a simple idea to become a genuine global phenomenon.” The unofficial start to the end-of-year giving season once again kicked off this #GivingTuesday, December 2nd 2014, and with #UNselfies shared and charitable gifts made, giving is in full-swing.

Free Webinar Open to All Philanthropic Organizations
Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 1pm ET

The Council on Foundations offices will be closed from December 25, 2014 - January 2, 2015. During this time, Council staff is available to assist our members with their time-sensitive needs. Please call our main number at 703-879-0600 and select "Membership" or e-mail us at membership@cof.org.