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.

On September 25th at the United Nations, 193 countries ratified the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of global targets that will serve as a new global framework for how governments, philanthropy, non-profits, and the private sector can work together to address challenges all of us and the communities we serve face on a local and global scale. Council staff have been participating in conversations about achieving these goals and philanthropy’s critical role in this endeavor.

In philanthropy we’ve long known that we play a unique role by addressing society’s most pressing challenges at their root. Our work is distinct from charity – focused less on meeting immediate needs and more on tackling the underlying causes. And we’re well positioned to take risks to figure out what strategies work best to solve social problems, something that companies and other players beholden to greater political and consumer pressures can’t always do.

In 2012, the Department of Treasury and the IRS issued proposed regulations applicable to private foundations seeking to make grants to foreign organizations using equivalency determinations. At the time, the Council submitted comments in support of the rules, and urged Treasury and the IRS to consider making additional clarifications to the rules that apply to international grantmaking.

In the last year, there has been a spike in the number of refugees fleeing into Europe. There are still three-and-a-half months left in 2015, but the number of arriving refugees this year is already more than double the amount from all of 2014. The camps and centers that some refugees are forced to stay in are overcrowded and often lack food, water and other basic necessities.

It’s an ever-clear sky today. Just as it was in 2001. And yet ever-clear and jet trails slicing September blue-skies then are now reminders, important ones, of the events of 9/11 and the losses and learnings we have experienced since.

Reminders of those we mourn can help us grieve.  Public memorials serve to both remind us who we mourn – may we never forget – and the very ideals we collectively honor.  While beacons of light illuminate an ever-shifting New York skyline, there is another memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania that has its own story. 

NOTE: This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

As a boy, I remember reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with my first grade class. We said it in unison; we stood together; and over time we came to understand what it meant.

As I got older, I would listen to the recorded voice of a young President at his Inaugural, who summoned a generation to think less of themselves and more of their country.

Some people are drawn to snow-covered mountain peaks, others to the lush canopies of forests a meandering river, a shimmering plain. For me it is the call of the sea. The endless horizon brings me peace and each wave  a grace note in our ecosystem’s symphony. It is the sea where I go to think, to connect, and to be.

As I've read and watched others' reflections on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's destruction of a great American city, I'm compelled to tell some of my story. New Orleans is not a place where I practice grant making or convening, but it is a place near and dear to my heart, one I've visited for over forty years -- Mardi Gras, Halloween, Christmas, the New Year, jazz fest, Sugar Bowl, Council on Foundations' conferences. I have celebrated all of these in New Orleans.

This piece was originally published in the Los Angeles Times on August 16, 2015.

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: