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.

The Council actively asserts its leadership role in the global policy space to ensure a positive regulatory environment for global philanthropy. To do that, the Council develops substantive policy positions on behalf of its members and submits regulatory comments and letters to U.S. policymakers, foreign governments and intergovernmental bodies, and advocates before domestic and international bodies that set policies that impact cross-border philanthropy.

The Council on Foundations supports mandatory electronic filing of Form 990s and publicly-available data about the nonprofit sector, while cautioning lawmakers to involve nonprofits in implementation and ensure adequate data protection.

Several years ago, the IRS began requiring electronic filing, or e-filing, of Forms 990 and 990-PF for certain classes of tax-exempt organizations; it also made e-filing an option for all filers. Many organizations already choose to e-file for the efficiency it affords, and each year increasing numbers of organizations are making the transition.

The Council supports recent efforts by the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and Internal Revenue Services (IRS) to provide much-needed clarity on the political activities of tax-exempt organizations. However, the Council strongly opposes any new rules that would dampen nonpartisan activities and civic engagement efforts of nonprofit organizations.

Engage With Your Lawmakers Today!

Advocacy and engagement with lawmakers is an essential part of preserving and strengthening philanthropy. It provides an opportunity for you to communicate—in a variety of ways—the positive impact of charitable giving in the lives of their constituents every day, and ensure that they understand how the decisions they make in Washington matter at home.

Many recognize this. From those who do, we hear:

The Council has concerns about proposals in recent years that would expand the scope of the unrelated business income tax.

The Council opposes any policy proposal that would eliminate types of supporting organizations and reduce the variety and flexibility of charitable giving tools available to foundations and donors alike.

Delivered Monday, July 13 during the 2015 NAACP National Convention along with Senator Casey, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chairman G.K. Butterfield and more.

The full video remarks can be viewed here with Vikki Spruill starting at 1:11. 

Building Successful Collaborations in Philanthropy

This morning, Council President and CEO Vikki Spruill helped launch a new platform on the Huffington Post that highlights important developments and leading thinkers on social innovation. The blog features thoughts from leaders such as Clara Miller of the F.B. Heron Foundation and Maria Rodale of the Rodale Institute. 

On May 30, David Callahan, editor of Inside Philanthropy, published a short-sighted opinion piece on philanthropy in the New York Times. Given its reach, the Council believed that the piece warranted a strong and united response.

The 2015 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Survey is now open. The survey collects information on benefits policies and practices, as well as compensation data for 35 positions at community, corporate, private, public, and operating foundations.