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.

Stephanie Bell-Rose is the Senior Managing Director and Head of the TIAA Institute.

The Council on Foundations’ 2016 Endowments and Finance Summit is just around the corner – Sept. 28-30 – and as co-chair of the convening's working group, I strongly encourage you to register for it!

To keep you in the know about happenings that affect foundations that fund across borders and new opportunities for learning, sharing, and collaboration, I am excited to introduce you to the Council’s new Global Philanthropy Update. Every month, we will highlight resources available through the Council and share important news from the field.

Continuing our blog post series about the 2015 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Report (GSB), this week let’s take a look at the third chapter, “Issues Specific to the Chief Executive Officer.”

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Members, remember that you can download the GSB for free.

Promoting economic development is not, by itself, a charitable purpose. Grantmakers seeking to help people and communities achieve economic self-sufficiency must therefore find a connection between a proposed activity and one or more recognized charitable purposes. In this Legal Lunch Series, Suzanne and Bryan will discuss IRS rulings, court cases and activities proposed by members to help explain what is needed in order to make grants for economic development.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

When I noticed late last year that the Council on Foundations’ annual conference would focus on climate change, I was delighted. For The Fund for New Jersey and other place-based funders, climate change has been a daunting challenge. We are a small foundation in a state with no coal-fired plants and we anticipated from the beginning that there would be a limit to what we could accomplish on this global problem.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

This post also appeared as an op-ed in the Huffington Post on July 19, 2016.

Sustainability. Quality education. Poverty reduction. Gender equality.

If this list sounds familiar to individuals working in philanthropy or non-profits in the U.S., it should. Our sector is synonymous with these issues in part because our nation suffers from many of them, despite being the wealthiest country on the planet.