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.

Join us for the second webinar in a series called, “Lunch with Legal Counsel.” Suzanne Friday, Senior Counsel and Vice President of Legal Affairs at the Council on Foundation will review and explain IRS Code Section 4944: Taxes on investments which jeopardize charitable purpose and what it means for private foundations.

We will also explore the exceptions that have been created for mission and program-related investments using current examples from the field.

This webinar introduces an approach to investing for community impact as a shared strategic commitment from the different perspectives of the funder and the grantee nonprofit. Our experts will offer best practices for high performance, and Huey & Angelina Wilson Foundation and the City School will each share their journeys towards improving outcomes, clarifying specifically what they had to change to move in this direction.

The 2017 HR Summit: Achieving Equity in the Workplace, co-hosted by the Council on Foundations and CHANGE Philanthropy, is your unique opportunity to learn how to make your foundation — and philanthropy as a whole — more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

During this convening you can expect engaging, intimate conversations led by field experts focused on:

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.

Each year, Pennsylvania’s philanthropic sector invests more than $2.6 billion in grant making in the Commonwealth. Uncertainty about national and State public policies and budget realities will make philanthropy’s investments critically important, especially on behalf of vulnerable populations in our communities. Now more than ever, Pennsylvania foundations must come together to define a shared understanding that can amplify the voice of the sector and sharpen their focus on the impacts of policymaking on the social safety net and the non-profit community.

Collaborate & Innovate: Equalizing the Playing Field of Black Business Ownership in the U.S.

Equalizing the Playing Field of Black Business OwnershipThis event is a preconference session at the 2017 Annual Conference. It is the first in a series of three sessions focused on entrepreneurship within the Black community.

Launched in 2014, The Veterans Philanthropy Exchange is a learning and sharing forum for philanthropic grantmakers, donors, and corporate giving programs supporting veterans and military family strategies.

Join your peers for discussions about funder collaboration and collective action, a review of lessons learned in veterans philanthropy and partnerships over the past few years, and an exploration of the role that sector might continue to play as a new Administration ramps up, and as the understanding of veterans needs continues to evolve.

Join the Philanthropy Caucus for a social reception to conclude Foundations on the Hill. Network with representatives from a variety of charitable foundations and organizations, lawmakers, and Congressional staff in an event to recognize the role of philanthropy as a unique stakeholder in collective efforts to address some of today's toughest challenges.

Listen to the Recording

The webinar provided an analysis of the impact that President Trump's Executive Order 13769, Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, may have on your foundation's work domestically and globally.