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).

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On May 18, 2016, President Obama and Secretary Perez announced the publication of the Department of Labor’s final rule updating the overtime regulations.

Key Provisions

The Final Rule focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for Executive, Administrative and Professional workers to be exempt. Specifically, the Final Rule:

The Council on Foundations is pleased to announce the four new members of its board of directors, each of whom will serve for three years. Elected at the Council’s 2016 annual conference on April 11, Tonya Allen, the president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation, Jamie Merisotis, the president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, Tony Mestres, the president and CEO of The Seattle Foundation, and R. Randall Royster, the president and CEO of the Albuquerque Community Foundation, join the Council’s 17-member board.

The Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge today announced $7 million in new investments to strengthen services and support for millions of veterans and military families across the United States. With their commitments, PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc., Orange County Community Foundation, and CarMax and The CarMax Foundation join the 32 philanthropic organizations and corporations that have pledged since 2014. Through grants and other forms of support, nearly $283 million has been committed in the Impact Pledge to date.

The Council on Foundations exists to provide the opportunity, leadership, and tools philanthropic organizations need to make a meaningful difference. As a national organization with a large and diverse membership, the Council possesses a unique ability to offer strategic leadership for philanthropy in its many forms.

In helping foundations LEAD TOGETHER, the Council aims to help grantmakers leverage their resources for common purposes.

The Council submitted a letter on March 31, 2016 in response to a request for information (RFI) issued in February by the Multistate Registration and Filing Project (MRFP)—an organization that works with the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) to consolidate the information and data requirements of all states that require registration of nonprofit organizations performing charitable solicitations within their jurisdictions. 

Leaders from 42 foundations announced today that they have “banned the box” by adopting fair chance hiring policies or ensuring that questions about criminal convictions do not appear on applications for employment with their foundations. They also issued a challenge to all U.S. philanthropic institutions to follow suit and eliminate barriers to employment for people with arrest and conviction records.

On February 19, 2016, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued proposed regulations regarding the prohibition on certain contributions to Type I and Type III supporting organizations and the requirements for Type III supporting organizations. 

Today, the Council on Foundations and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched the 2016 HUD Secretary's Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships. HUD and the Council are seeking nominations from charitable foundations working with the public sector to improve the neighborhoods and the quality of life for low- and moderate-income residents.

The Council on Foundations has named Hadar Susskind its Vice President of Public Policy, a new position intended to advance the Council’s public policy work on behalf of its members. Hadar joins the Council’s nationally recognized Public Policy and Legal Affairs team led by Sue Santa.