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.

In April, my tenure as chair of the Council on Foundations’ Board of Directors will end, and I will near completion of my board service, a term bounded by two historic presidential elections and begun when our country experienced an economic collapse rivaled only by the 1929 market crash and the Great Depression that followed.

In this Week’s Edition of Snapshot…

  • Tax Reform Update: President Trump addresses Congress, Secretary Mnuchin speaks on tax reform, Chairman Brady vows to repeal the Johnson Amendment, and the Council and colleagues speak out in defense of nonpartisanship
  • Legislation to invest in “opportunity zones” introduced in House and Senate
  • Ben Carson is confirmed as Housing and Urban Development Secretary
  • President Trump orders agencies to focus on regulatory reform
  • White House budget aims to increase defense spending, cut domestic programs

It’s officially tax season when the IRS releases its Dirty Dozen List of Tax Scams. We know Council members work hard to be on the right side of the law, but the below info from the IRS can be useful to review with board and staff. Don’t forget, if you ever have a question, the Council’s legal team is here to support you. Feel free to contact us at legal@cof.org.

Here’s their list of this year’s most prominent scams:

In this Week’s Edition of Snapshot…

  • Tax Reform Update: House Republicans face growing opposition to border adjustability
  • Charitable Giving Coalition Spends Day Fighting for the Charitable Deduction on Capitol Hill
  • IRS makes 1023-EZ data available online
  • In the States: State budgets (in brief), and States consider contracting reform commissions

Council President and CEO Vikki Spruill sat down with Philanthropy Hour’s Greg Cherry for an intimate conversation about the impact and value of American philanthropy and the Council on Foundations' role in advancing the common good.

Hear what Vikki considers to be trending in the field, what motivates giving, and some of the exciting work the Council is doing around impact investing and endowments — just stream the 40-minute podcast now.

In this Week’s Edition of Snapshot…

  • Tax Reform Update: Mnuchin confirmed as Treasury Secretary, Bishop names to Ways & Means, Trump Administration working on a tax overhaul plan, Congress aims to keep tax reform train on track
  • IRS seeks to understand how the regulatory ban will impact its work
  • Council Hosts Collaborative Meeting with Federal Agencies and Philanthropic Stakeholders
  • U.S. nonprofits working abroad face financial difficulties, according to a new study

Over the past several months, Council staff have held conversations with foundation leaders who are grappling with how to understand philanthropy’s role as the new Administration challenges the way our country has traditionally operated. The pace with which significant changes are proposed and executed is making it difficult for even the best strategic jugglers to know how, if, or when to react. Most will admit that these are unusual times. Some describe what’s happening as a shock to the system, sending waves of confusion through organizations and around the globe.

In this Week’s Edition of Snapshot…

  • Tax Reform Update: Council staff meets with Chairman Brady, there is a new member of Ways and Means, and tax bills are not in short supply
  • The Council sends a letter to Congress about the “Johnson Amendment”
  • A number of the President’s Cabinet Nominees have been confirmed
  • The United Nations faces a possibility of decreased funding from the U.S.
  • In the States: State-Level Opposition to Attacks on Foundation and Nonprofit Nonpartisanship
Basic Rights and Rules for Foundations working with Non-US Citizens

Disclaimer: The information in this message and any attachments is being provided for informational purposes only and not as part of an attorney-client relationship. The information is not a substitute for expert legal, tax,or other professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances and may not be relied upon to avoid any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code.

Last Updated: March 17, 2017

Evaluation and philanthropic learning are essential to driving social change. Here are five trends to look out for in 2017 – and likely beyond: