Independent Foundations

Private foundations make grants based on charitable endowments. The endowment funds come from one or a small handful of sources -- an individual, a family or a corporation. Because of their endowments, they are focused primarily on grantmaking and generally do not raise funds or seek public financial support the way public charities (like community foundations) must.

Private independent foundations are distinct from private family or corporate foundations in that an independent foundation is not governed by the benefactor, the benefactor’s family or a corporation. Of the largest private foundations in the United States, most are independent foundations, although they may have begun as family foundations or were converted from corporate foundations. There is no official IRS or legal definition of independent foundations, so it is difficult to arrive at statistics that are fully representative of the field.

Below is everything on our site for independent foundations. You can use the filtering options on the right to narrow these results.

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.

Concerned about the state of higher education in the U.S.?  Then join our policy and foundation guest speakers who will provide an overview of the status of Congressional reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that authorizes billions of dollars for Pell Grants, student loans, and many other supports for students. teachers, and institutions of higher education.

Bipartisan consensus around criminal justice reform is growing nationally with more foundations increasing their efforts to change the way we think about prisons and public safety. As this issue continues to gain momentum, we ask how can philanthropy take a leadership role in reforming the criminal justice system in America?

Join the Council on Foundations for a Twitter Chat, Wednesday, August 26 from 12-1 PM ET, as we explore these important questions together.

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:

Please join the Council on Foundations and WINGS  for a webinar about the shrinking space for philanthropy and civil society globally. 

Join the Council on Foundations, nonprofit media organizations, foundations, journalists, academics, and other stakeholders for a conversation about the role of nonprofit media in fostering a vibrant civil society in local communities.

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.