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.

Thriving Philanthropy Makes Thriving Communities

There are several proposals being considered in Congress that have significant implications for philanthropy and its effectiveness in addressing some of our most pressing challenges. In addition to educating lawmakers in Washington, D.C., communicating the impact locally is just as important! Here are some ways your organization can spread the word about the correlation between philanthropy and thriving communities.

Media Outreach

Letter to the Editor

Working in collaboration with the Center for American Progress, the Council co-hosted conversations among foundations, community development financial institutions, and investment firms about social impact bonds and Pay for Success. Out of these conversations, two issue briefs were created:

The Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking was established in 1985 to recognize a grantmaker who has demonstrated outstanding creativity. It honors grantmakers who, with a combination of vision, principle and personal commitment, are making a critical difference in a creative way. The award was created as a memorial to the late Robert Winston Scrivner, former staff associate of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and first executive director of the Rockefeller Family Fund, by a number of his friends and colleagues.

Increasing personal accountability is probably the most effective way to enhance the performance of board members. Here are a few suggestions.

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A B C D E F G I J L M O P Q R S T U

Certain definitions are defined by law.

The Council has actively supported extending and expanding the IRA charitable rollover since its inclusion in The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA). We know this provision is particularly important to our community foundation members, and we will continue to be engaged in this legislation as it moves forward in the 113th Congress.

Audits are everywhere these days. Consider:

Discussion makes a community. Community builds knowledge, interest and camaraderie. The Council on Foundations hosts 17 electronic discussion lists for its members as a way to encourage discussion and share information.

What is an electronic discussion list?

An electronic discussion list is a subscription-based e-mail group. It provides a forum in which people with common interests may discuss topics related to the list, and it’s a great way to share information between colleagues.

What lists are currently available?

Members can now access the following salary tables with data from the 2013 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Survey. 

The Council on Foundations’ Foundation Management Series provides foundation boards and staff with the tools needed to benchmark their practices and operations against peers in the field. Containing data from the Council’s 2009 Foundation Management survey, the series consists of three reports: Board Composition and Compensation, Administrative and Investment Expenses, and Fiscal Oversight.

The board compensation and administrative expenses tables are available for free to members:

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