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.

The Council on Foundations and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today launched the 2017 HUD Secretary’s Awards for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships. The Council and HUD are seeking nominations from charitable foundations working with the public sector to improve the neighborhoods and quality of life for low- and moderate-income Americans.

The Council on Foundations announced today that 24 promising philanthropic leaders have been selected to participate in the fourth Career Pathways Program. This intensive, year-long leadership development program is designed to foster diverse talent and excellence among the philanthropic sector's senior executives.

Shortly after the 2016 election, the Council on Foundations announced it had hired veteran nonprofit executive Chris Gates as executive vice president for external affairs, a new position.

The Council on Foundations offices will be closed from December 24, 2016 - January 2, 2017. During this time, Council staff is available to assist our members with their time-sensitive needs. Please dial the membership line directly at 703-879-0645 or email Membership at membership@cof.org.

This past Friday a diverse group of philanthropic leaders gathered in New York City to discuss the unexpected election results, what those results mean for our nation and what they mean for our work, both individually and as a sector. The meeting, convened by the Council on Foundations and hosted by the Ford Foundation, included representatives of private foundations, community foundations and corporate grant makers who came from all four time zones of the country. As you will see from the notes below, the group was diverse in every way, including diversity of perspective.

A great example of a foundation that has already been active in reaching out to their members in the 115th Congress is the Adirondack Foundation. Click here to see their example of a letter to the Congresswoman representing their district!

Following up on the webinar we presented in August on the overtime rule that was issued by the Department of Labor in May, we wanted to inform the field that a federal judge in Texas has issued a nationwide injunction to halt the implementation of this rule.

The Council on Foundations today announced that the nomination period for its 2017 Awards Program is open now through January 18, 2017.

After meeting with senior officials at the Department of Treasury, the Council submitted a letter on October 21, 2016 to Elinor Ramey, Attorney Advisor in the Office of Tax Policy regarding private foundations and how they may use donor advised funds (“DAFs”) to further their grantmaking activity.