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 the nation approaches the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, our society remains conflicted on our ability to be united as a people. We find ourselves seeking relief from the divisiveness brought about by several events of the prior year: the civil unrest in many of our communities, the contentious rhetoric associated with the presidential campaign, and the demonstrations of intolerance against the LGBTQ and racial/ethnic communities. Many within our field are working to heal these divisions.

Monday, January 16, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Day), a federal holiday in the U.S. The fact that a federal holiday was designated to commemorate the birthdate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is significant - only two other figures have national holidays in the U.S. honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus.

In this Week's Edition of Snapshot...

In this Week's Edition of Snapshot...

The Council on Foundations announced today that 24 promising philanthropic leaders have been selected to participate in the fourth Career Pathways Program. This intensive, year-long leadership development program is designed to foster diverse talent and excellence among the philanthropic sector's senior executives.

Shortly after the 2016 election, the Council on Foundations announced it had hired veteran nonprofit executive Chris Gates as executive vice president for external affairs, a new position.

The Council on Foundations offices will be closed from December 24, 2016 - January 2, 2017. During this time, Council staff is available to assist our members with their time-sensitive needs. Please dial the membership line directly at 703-879-0645 or email Membership at membership@cof.org.

This past Friday a diverse group of philanthropic leaders gathered in New York City to discuss the unexpected election results, what those results mean for our nation and what they mean for our work, both individually and as a sector. The meeting, convened by the Council on Foundations and hosted by the Ford Foundation, included representatives of private foundations, community foundations and corporate grant makers who came from all four time zones of the country. As you will see from the notes below, the group was diverse in every way, including diversity of perspective.

View from space of sunrise over the earth

2017 will be a year of change, as orthodoxies in the field get tested and philanthropy steps up and into a more prominent national role.


In early December 2016, the Chinese government released the official and final version of their new Guidelines on Organizational Registration and Temporary Activities Reporting. These guidelines provide needed information for compliance with the 2016 Law of the People’s Republic of China on Administration of Activities of Overseas Nongovernmental Organizations in the Mainland of China (Overseas NGO Law).