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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Announcing the Leading Forward Webinar Series

In this week's snapshot, you'll read about:

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In This Week at the Council, you'll find:

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‘Big Data’ is a hot topic in philanthropy. But what does it actually represent, and how can foundations be most effective in using this data to help inform and advance their work? The first installment of our Leading Forward webinar series will highlight different ways foundations are using Big Data, and how Big Data is being used more broadly to provide insights into the state of the philanthropic field.

Speaker Highlights

Kate Ahern, Vice President of Social Innovation, Case Foundation

In this issue:

  • Philanthropy Leaders Converge on D.C. for Philanthropy Week
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In This Week at the Council, you'll find:

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  • Take Part in the Columbus Survey
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Right now, over 200 leaders from across the philanthropic sector are uniting in Washington, D.C. to tell their lawmakers that thriving philanthropy builds thriving communities. As lawmakers contemplate comprehensive tax reform, individual changes to the tax code and the President’s FY2015 budget, we must ensure Washington understands that tax policy matters to philanthropy.

President Obama unveiled his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget yesterday, which sets forth the Administration’s spending and policy priorities for the coming year. The Budget presents a fiscal plan oriented around three White House priorities: accelerating economic growth, expanding opportunity for all Americans, and reducing deficits. To cover the cost of these proposals, the Administration seeks to close certain “tax loopholes” it views as providing particular benefit to the wealthy, such as the carried interest deduction.

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