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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Are you new to philanthropy and unsure about the due diligence process for making a successful grant? Have you been in the field for several years, but are still unclear on the legal aspects of grantmaking or how to spot red flags in grantee financial statements? If you answered "yes" to any of the above, please consider joining us for NCG's 2014 New Grantmakers Institute.

‘Big Data’ is a hot topic in philanthropy. But what does it actually represent, and how can foundations be most effective in using this data to help inform and advance their work? The first installment of our Leading Forward webinar series will highlight different ways foundations are using Big Data, and how Big Data is being used more broadly to provide insights into the state of the philanthropic field.

The Council on Foundations is pleased to announce the first of two webinars we will offer in preparation for the upcoming “Philanthropy Week in Washington” and “Foundations on the Hill.”

“Creating Effective Stories that Lawmakers Will Remember” will offer tips and tools for crafting an effective message to deliver to your policymakers. We’re pleased to offer this webinar in partnership with the Congressional Management Foundation, which has done extensive research on best practices for influencing lawmakers.

This webinar show how 10 states are implementing a web-based platform to help foundations and other community organizations respond effectively to civic challenges.

The Urban Institute's system includes tools community foundations can use to:

During this webinar, participants will learn how to garner timely responses from their members of Congress using the Internet and social media.

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Is your foundation using best practices for internal processes? Hear how the Archstone Foundation addressed the various needs of a multigenerational workforce that values its employees and offers incentives to increase motivation, productivity, and employee satisfaction. You will also learn how The Irvine Foundation reviewed its 10-year-old, paper-intensive grant process and developed a more streamlined, technology-driven approach while providing more readily available information to program staff and key executives.

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In this age of austerity, it is more important than ever to ask and answer how foundations' decisions impact the fields they work in. Join foundation grantmakers for this two-part webinar as they share lessons learned from grantee budget reductions and business model changes.

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Special thanks to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for sponsoring this webinar.
Representatives from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation discuss how their foundation became a Web 2.0 philanthropy and the effects it had on their employees, grantees, and programming.

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