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).

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In this week's Washington Snapshot:

  • Ways and Means Making Progress on Tax Reform Plan;
  • Race-Based Scholarships and Proving an Applicant's Status;
  • California Bill Seeks to Mandate Website, Fundraising Text for Organizations Throughout the U.S.;
  • Shareholder Activism Targets Lobbying Disclosure.

Read all this and more, online now!

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

This is the Council on Foundations team reporting from the 33rd Annual Representing and Managing Tax-Exempt Organizations Conference. This conference is the best-attended EO conference in the United States, and we are thrilled to see so many of our members and colleagues here.

What is corporate integration?

Corporate integration is a way of addressing the issue of “double taxation” on corporate income. Under our current system, corporate income is taxed at two levels: the level of corporate profits and the level of shareholder dividends.

The Council on Foundations is pleased to announce the four new members of its board of directors, each of whom will serve for three years. Elected at the Council’s 2016 annual conference on April 11, Tonya Allen, the president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation, Jamie Merisotis, the president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, Tony Mestres, the president and CEO of The Seattle Foundation, and R. Randall Royster, the president and CEO of the Albuquerque Community Foundation, join the Council’s 17-member board.

I have attended a lot of conferences over the years and have always felt driven to go to as many sessions as possible, to gather information and knowledge to bring back to my colleagues at the Maine Community Foundation. This time around was no different: I set out to get the latest on National Standards, to explore issues related to endowed philanthropy, to learn how community foundations and United Ways can do more together.

A year and a half before the historic US Supreme Court ruling ended discrimination in civil marriage rights for same-sex couples, foundations and nonprofit leaders of the LGBTQ movement came together to address a concern: While many activists anticipated the legal victory, many also worried that the larger movement for LGBTQ equality would lose momentum in the wake of a win—potentially leaving important issues unaddressed.