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.

In this report the World Economic Forum Investors Industries consulted the senior most decision-makers and portfolio managers of the largest and most innovative investors in the world; this facilitated a more realistic vantage point on the challenges in scaling the sector. Working with this group was also instrumental in raising awareness and knowledge among key stakeholders for taking impact investing from the margins into the mainstream.

From Grantmakers in Health, Guide to Impact Investing provides an overview of what impact investing is and how it may enhance foundation work, steps to plan and implement an impact investing program, a spectrum of investment options, and challenges that may arise along the way.

From TCC, which developed the Core Capacity Assessment tool, this resource investigates how organizations can put these core capacities to work in achieving organizational sustainability in difficult economic times.

From GEO, what does it mean to truly and authentically engage a community in evaluation? Grantmakers working on place-based grantmaking already have the incentive and drive to support in-depth evaluation to understand the impact of the initiative and to identify opportunities to improve their work. Effective evaluation of these complex and multi-facetted efforts is grounded in the perspectives of community stakeholders.

From GEO, collective action is an effective way for nonprofits to increase their impact, but they often lack the key capacities that enable these types of partnerships to thrive. This publication offers insights on the core capacities nonprofits need to collaborate and how funders can help.

From the Family Foundation Advisor, this article reviews the sunset-vs.-perpetuity issue and considers the potential benefits of a sunset date, with the special considerations of small family foundations in mind.

From PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, these publications and resources cover issues surrounding investments other than stocks, bonds and cash.

From Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, this handbook on responsible investing provides the blueprint for foundation asset managers interested in multiplying their organization’s impact on society through options that link mission with investments that create long-term value to society.

Prepared by the Southern New Hampshire University's School of Community Economic Development and available through Mission Investors Exchange, this case study explores the details of the F.B. Heron Foundation's rationale, exploration, and implementation of its mission-related investment strategy, and reviews tools (including PRIs), specific investments, interim outcomes, and lessons learned. The case study provides a walk-through of how Heron applies its Mission-related Investment Continuum to its portfolio.