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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The Council on Foundations is pleased to announce two summer webinars that will delve into critical provisions in comprehensive tax reform proposal introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4). The proposal lays the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform, and contains dozens of provisions that affect foundations, including—

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the Council on Foundations, announce the 2014 Secretaries’ Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships.

Every day, Council members stand at the forefront of innovation, explore creative ways to advance the common good, and find solutions for complex issues in society. For this, the Council's award programs were established to recognize excellence in philanthropy and honor exemplary leaders for their dedication in uplifting the sector.

As we continue this legacy, the Council will award in 2014 the Distinguished Service Award and the Robert Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking.

Speaker Highlights

Kate Ahern, Vice President of Social Innovation, Case Foundation

The 2013 Grantmakers Salary Tables provide aggregate information on U.S. foundation and corporate giving program staff salaries and benefits. Free to participants and Council members and $159 for nonmembers, the tables compile data on more than 8,000 full-time employees from across the country. Mean, median, range, 25th, and 75th percentiles are provided.

The report explores the ways in which infrastructure organizations think about the value and the mechanics of collaboration—the drivers and barriers to collaborative work—and to determine ways to encourage more effective partnerships. The publication features a framework for understanding different types of collaboration, a set of recommendations for better collaboration, and a series of case studies that show a range of partnerships that tease out the potential benefits and challenges of various kinds of collaboration.

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