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.

This sample grant proposal application checklist can be customized to your foundation's processes, allowing you to check off each step of the grant application process.  

This sample grant proposal acknowledgment letter will allow you to let prospective grantees know that their application was received.  

This sample post-grant evaluation can be customized to your foundation, and provided to your grantees to submit at the conclusion of their grant.

This is a sample Membership Committee policy

This sample grant agreement letter may be customized to your foundation, and used to alert new grantees to the terms of their grant.

This is a sample foundation investment policy.

The Stewardship Principles for Independent Foundations are a set of governance best practices that embody how independent foundations can reflect fundamental values including honesty, integrity, fairness, and trust, in their board governance, management, and grantmaking.


Tips and ideas on file management.

This sample grant file index allows you to see the types of information which your foundation may need to keep on each of your grantees.

A program for orienting new trustees is an indispensable step for foundations to maximize the value and benefits of their boards.