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 weeks issue:

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  • The Council and Commonfund Study Private Foundation Investments
  • Don't Miss Out on Philanthropy Exchange
  • President Obama Announces Climate Data Initiative
  • Tweet of the Week

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In this issue:

  • Council Releases Summary of Camp Bill
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  • Treasury Solicits Input on 2014-15 Priority Guidance Plan
  • IRS TE/GE Reorganization 
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In this week's edition of Washington Snapshot:
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  • Property Tax Proposal in Connecticut
  • California Senate Votes "No" on Political Activity Bill
  • New Papers on the Future of State Charities Regulation
  • Philanthropy Op-Ed

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  • Camp Bill Sets Critical Precedents
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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

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