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.

Audits are everywhere these days. Consider:

From the Center for Effective Philanthropy, most of foundations’ efforts to contribute ‘beyond the money’ has little beneficial impact on grantees. More than Money: Making a Difference with Assistance Beyond the Grant reveals that only when foundation staff provide assistance beyond the grant in one of two ways do grantees report a substantially more positive experience with their funders. Three exemplary foundations are profiled: Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Winter Park Health Foundation, and the Wallace Foundation.

From Grantcraft: whether it's introducing new ideas into your foundation or offering constructive feedback to a grantee, grantmakers can develop personal strategies to meet the "soft" challenges of grantmaking. Effective personal strategy helps practitioners use their understanding of self and role - as learner, analyst, bridge builder - to manage the tensions that come with the job. In this guide, contributors discuss the elements of personal strategy and how it helps grantmakers to leverage their strengths in service to their objectives.

The report explores the ways in which infrastructure organizations think about the value and the mechanics of collaboration—the drivers and barriers to collaborative work—and to determine ways to encourage more effective partnerships. The publication features a framework for understanding different types of collaboration, a set of recommendations for better collaboration, and a series of case studies that show a range of partnerships that tease out the potential benefits and challenges of various kinds of collaboration.

Closing a nonprofit charitable institution presents a range of unknowns to the grantmaking community. In this analysis, authors John Dickason and Duncan Neuhauser provide guidance to foundations considering whether to create a time-limited foundation or bring a foundation to an end. Topics include managing finances, grants, human and physical resources, archives, history and records.

Understanding the challenges of currency fluctuations on international grantmaking, and taking action to minimize their impact can ensure that this natural process does not become an added barrier to overseas giving. This resource focuses on some of the challenges foundations and giving programs and their grantees face as a result of fluctuating currency exchange rates, and highlights various ways that U.S. grantmakers are dealing with them in their international grantmaking activities.

Members can now access the following salary tables with data from the 2013 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Survey. 

The most comprehensive annual survey of its kind on private foundation investment practices and governance. The 140 foundations participating in the 2012 CCSF represent $78.7 billion in assets. Topics covered in the study include:

  • Performance - one, three, five and ten years
  • Returns and Investment Objectives
  • Asset Allocation, Investment Policies and Restrictions and Rebalancing
  • Debt
  • Donor Stock
  • Fund Flows
  • Resources, Management and Governance