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.

Democratic Practice

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 this year the Distinguished Service Award and the Robert Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking.

Register Today

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.

Speaker Highlights

Kate Ahern, Vice President of Social Innovation, Case Foundation

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.

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