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.

Bipartisan consensus around criminal justice reform is growing nationally with more foundations increasing their efforts to change the way we think about prisons and public safety. As this issue continues to gain momentum, we ask how can philanthropy take a leadership role in reforming the criminal justice system in America?

Join the Council on Foundations for a Twitter Chat, Wednesday, August 26 from 12-1 PM ET, as we explore these important questions together.

Last week, I got to see philanthropy in action on a great trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan. After just a few days of meeting with philanthropic leaders in Western Michigan, I had new energy, new ideas, and more proof that collaboration is driving the field forward.

I was grateful to have been invited by Diana Sieger, President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, to see its work in action.  I got to tour the city and learn about philanthropic projects around the area. I learned about collaborative efforts like:

Please join the Council on Foundations and WINGS  for a webinar about the shrinking space for philanthropy and civil society globally. 

Join the Council on Foundations, nonprofit media organizations, foundations, journalists, academics, and other stakeholders for a conversation about the role of nonprofit media in fostering a vibrant civil society in local communities.

On the Fourth of July, our nation comes together to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy, freedoms our service members, veterans and their families have made possible through their sacrifices.

Just as Americans responded to the call to defend our liberties, our nation must respond to our call to duty – ensuring veterans and their families have a successful transition from service to community.

Together – one nation with one common goal – we must serve those who have served us.

Stephanie Bell-Rose, Senior Managing Director of the TIAA-CREF Institute, shares the Working Group's vision of the Endowments and Financial Services Summit.

Interning at the Council on Foundations is giving us a great look at a cross-section of the philanthropic field. The Council’s members, after all, come in all shapes and sizes – large, small, corporate, community foundations, and everything in between. As much as we research them, as much as we hear their names thrown around, the opportunity to actually visit and connect with a member really brought our work into context.

On July 26th, we mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA25), which prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. The impact of the ADA on grant-funded projects in healthcare, education and housing has been significant, as the 57 million Americans with disabilities comprise the nation’s largest minority.

My book Charitable Foundations: The Essential Guide to Giving and Compliance was published in May 2015. Since publication, a number of people have asked me what led me to write the book. The Council on Foundations has asked me to address that subject in a blog.

The year I was born, 1963, being gay was officially deemed a mental illness by the medical establishment. Same-sex relationships were illegal in every state, save Illinois. The federal government maintained a policy that prohibited the hiring of "known perverts,” then referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

What a long way we have come to today, the day marriage equality was deemed the law of the land by the highest court in our nation.