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.

As part of its advocacy work, the Council may weigh in on, or participate in, important legal cases when significant issues arise that will impact our members and the field. The Council’s participation is often as Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) whereby the Council, although not a party to the litigation, authors or co-authors a legal brief to inform the Court of its position on an issue and to assist the Court in making a decision in the case.

Networking Events

#COFAnnual is the place to connect with leaders in philanthropy, government, and other sectors — and to create future opportunities for collaboration. While every minute at #COFAnnual is an opportunity to network, these events are tailored for you to socialize and introduce you to new contacts.


Sunday, April 23

New Attendee Welcome Reception

Sunday, April 23 — 5:30-6:30 p.m.

On January 27, President Trump issued an Executive Order on "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements." Since then, there have been protests in cities and airports around the nation, there have been statements from elected officials on both sides of the aisle, and there has been a great deal of discussion via social media.

On January 30, the Council hosted a conference call on President Trump's executive order, its legal underpinnings and challenges, and its impact on foundations and grantees.

Plenary Sessions

Opening Plenary: Philanthropy's Role in Vibrant Communities

Monday, April 24 - 8:45-10:15 a.m.

This member update focused principally on important issues related to foundation financial management and endowment performance.

Why do the Sustainable Development Goals matter to philanthropy?

These broad global goals address the same problems that our field is tackling: to reduce poverty, improve livelihoods and quality of life, and create a more equitable global society. Looking at the range of issues in the SDGs, all funders can find their work within these collective goals, regardless of what type of foundation you are and whether you fund programs in 90 countries or focus your grantmaking on a specific community in the United States.