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.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

When my colleague and fellow attorney Lara Kalwinski, Senior Counsel for Policy and Compliance and Executive Director of National Standards, and I both came to the Council on Foundations in 2013, we each had extensive experience with the Council’s books, newsletters, and other legal publications. In fact, we both relied heavily on these resources in our previous positions.

Realizing that it was time to begin updating them to incorporate changes in the law and other new information, Lara and I began to brainstorm about the best ways to deliver the information to our members.

The Council on Foundations, a member of the Global NPO Coalition on FATF, applauds the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recent update to its counter-terrorism recommendation on NPOs, specifically grantmakers.

This member update will focus principally on important issues related to foundation financial management and endowment performance. We will look in depth at the Council's recent research on endowments and preview our upcoming Endowments and Finance Summit in New York City. We will discuss how members might better understand their own institution's financial management and investment performance in broader context.