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.

As part of its advocacy work, the Council may weigh in on, or participate in, important legal cases when significant issues arise that will impact our members and the field. The Council’s participation is often as Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) whereby the Council, although not a party to the litigation, authors or co-authors a legal brief to inform the Court of its position on an issue and to assist the Court in making a decision in the case.

Networking Events

#COFAnnual is the place to connect with leaders in philanthropy, government, and other sectors — and to create future opportunities for collaboration. While every minute at #COFAnnual is an opportunity to network, these events are tailored for you to socialize and introduce you to new contacts.


Sunday, April 23

New Attendee Welcome Reception

Sunday, April 23 — 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Do you know what happens when the U.S. sanctions U.S. charities? If you answered no, you wouldn’t be alone. It can lead to funds being frozen indefinitely, despite tax rules requiring that they be distributed for charitable purposes when a charity shuts down.

In this Week’s Edition of Snapshot…

  • Council and other foundation leaders meet with Members of Congress
  • Tax Reform Update: Bill to repeal ACA is introduced, tax reform to follow
  • The Council files amicus briefs in recent legal cases
  • In the States: California Speaker establishes select committee on the nonprofit sector

Good afternoon. Thank you, Tomas, for that warm welcome and introduction. I am honored to join all of you today to continue the discussion on how partnerships can help achieve the universal Sustainable Development Goals, and share what I’ve learned about how philanthropy is engaging in this shared commitment. After working with foundations in the U.S.

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD). Celebrated on March 8 of every year, IWD celebrates women around the world and their achievements. IWD has been observed since the early 1900s and the International Women’s Day website documents the evolution of this global celebration. At a time when there are many places and situations where women's rights, equality, health, and safety remain marginalized, IWD is also a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Each year, Pennsylvania’s philanthropic sector invests more than $2.6 billion in grant making in the Commonwealth. Uncertainty about national and State public policies and budget realities will make philanthropy’s investments critically important, especially on behalf of vulnerable populations in our communities. Now more than ever, Pennsylvania foundations must come together to define a shared understanding that can amplify the voice of the sector and sharpen their focus on the impacts of policymaking on the social safety net and the non-profit community.

Collaborate & Innovate: Equalizing the Playing Field of Black Business Ownership in the U.S.

Equalizing the Playing Field of Black Business OwnershipThis event is a preconference session at the 2017 Annual Conference. It is the first in a series of three sessions focused on entrepreneurship within the Black community.

In April, my tenure as chair of the Council on Foundations’ Board of Directors will end, and I will near completion of my board service, a term bounded by two historic presidential elections and begun when our country experienced an economic collapse rivaled only by the 1929 market crash and the Great Depression that followed.