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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D5′s 2014 State of the Work highlights new tools and resources, recently completed research, and new organizational approaches that can help foundations and philanthropic organizations take action, achieve their goals regarding DEI, and advance the common good.

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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.

A factsheet on disability from the Disability Funders Network.

From The Chicago Community Trust, this white paper challenges all of us with a set of thoughtful recommendations to realize our promise for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our communities, our schools and our workplaces.

From The Chicago Community Trust, this guide is for all nonprofit organizations that share The Chicago Community Trust's commitment to diversity:

From the Center for Effective Philanthropy, most of foundations’ efforts to contribute ‘beyond the money’ has little beneficial impact on grantees. More than Money: Making a Difference with Assistance Beyond the Grant reveals that only when foundation staff provide assistance beyond the grant in one of two ways do grantees report a substantially more positive experience with their funders. Three exemplary foundations are profiled: Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Winter Park Health Foundation, and the Wallace Foundation.

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