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 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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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). As of June, 2015, the IRA charitable rollover is not yet available for 2015 gifts. Congress has not extended the provision past 2014, though the Council is aggressively advocating for the provision to be passed quickly into permanent law to eliminate the need for annual extensions.

Audits are everywhere these days. Consider:

The Philanthropy Exchange is a private social network that allows Council members to connect with peers. On the Exchange, members can discuss topics of shared interest, share resources, and develop stronger relationships that advance their work. Watch this 2-minute video walk-through to get a feel for the platform.

Members can:

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:

More and more grantmakers are adopting online board portals to expedite the flow of information between the chief executive, staff, and the board.

Meeting with a member of Congress or with congressional staff is an effective way to convey a message about a specific issue or legislative matter. Below are some suggestions for making the most of your visit.

Plan your visit carefully

Be clear about what it is you want to achieve. Determine in advance with whom you need to meet to achieve your purpose.