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.

Why do the Sustainable Development Goals matter to philanthropy?

These broad global goals address the same problems that our field is tackling: to reduce poverty, improve livelihoods and quality of life, and create a more equitable global society. Looking at the range of issues in the SDGs, all funders can find their work within these collective goals, regardless of what type of foundation you are and whether you fund programs in 90 countries or focus your grantmaking on a specific community in the United States.

Many of our members are working with grantees on the ground in countries and communities directly impacted by terrorist violence, all over the world. Alongside partners like the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, the Council is tracking how and where philanthropy is responding to these attacks, and we will share what we find with our members.

RESOURCES

Crises where our international partners have established funds:

How Philanthropy Can Help Achieve the
U.N. Sustainable Development Goals in the U.S.

As implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals becomes a priority of the world, philanthropy has an opportunity to make an impact. This report from the Council on Foundations examines how U.S. funders can view their work in the global development framework and contribute to the success of the goals in the United States.

The Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing, believed to be the largest of its kind, provides foundations with invaluable insights into how the sector and individual portfolios are being shaped by responsible investing practices, potential hurdles to their adoption, and what the entry points are for those interested in fully engaging these practices in their endowment strategies.