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 post also appeared as an op-ed in the Huffington Post on July 19, 2016.

Sustainability. Quality education. Poverty reduction. Gender equality.

If this list sounds familiar to individuals working in philanthropy or non-profits in the U.S., it should. Our sector is synonymous with these issues in part because our nation suffers from many of them, despite being the wealthiest country on the planet.

Everyone who works in philanthropy has a different and interesting story of how they “found” the field. For many, it is a story of starting in philanthropy after a long career in another industry. Others tell a different story: you need not wait to become a philanthropist. Around the world, a growing movement of young people is not waiting to be a part of the change made possible by philanthropy. 

How can you do the most good, with limited resources, when facing enormous problems? That question lies at or near the heart of every decision at a foundation. This is true of the grant dollars which support community institutions and provide for social services, and it is true of the endowed dollars which are invested to in order to fund future grantmaking – providing for generations to come and needs unforeseen.

This post originally appeared as an op-ed in The Guardian on July 16, 2016.

There is no doubt that the U.S. is suffering from what feels like the unravelling of social order.

In this issue of Washington Snapshot, you'll find:

  • Delayed Release for Hatch Corporate Integration Plan
  • IRS Publishes Regulations for 501(c)(4)s
  • Israel Passes Controversial New 'NGO Transparency Law'
  • The Legal Team is Available to Answer Members' Questions!
  • North Carolina Moves Toward Performance Assessments for State Programs

Read all this and more, online now.

Last week’s shootings in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas have made more urgent our need for a national civil discussion about longstanding systemic challenges that deeply divide our communities. The Council on Foundations steadfastly denounces the killing of innocent people, no matter their skin color, political position, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. We mourn the lives lost and send our thoughts to their friends and loved ones and to our philanthropic colleagues who serve and lead in the affected communities.

In this Week's Washington Snapshot:

  • Field Signals Support for Preserving DAFs
  • Bill to Restrict Foreign Contributions Introduced in House
  • New Survey Results on Impact of DOL Rules on Nonprofits
  • Trending in Legal Affairs: 'Til DAF Do Us Part, 2.0
  • Happening in the States: New Fiscal Year, Same Old State Fiscal Challenges

Read all this and more, online now.

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.

This post originally appeared as an op-ed in The Chronicle of Philanthropy on June 24, 2016 with the title "Brexit Vote Will Force Philanthropy to Tackle Many Tough Issues."

The vote for Britain to exit the European Union took philanthropy and the rest of the world by surprise. But it raises tough new questions about how grant makers should respond to political and financial turmoil and uncertainty.