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.

Stephanie Bell-Rose is the Senior Managing Director and Head of the TIAA Institute.

The Council on Foundations’ 2016 Endowments and Finance Summit is just around the corner – Sept. 28-30 – and as co-chair of the convening's working group, I strongly encourage you to register for it!

To keep you in the know about happenings that affect foundations that fund across borders and new opportunities for learning, sharing, and collaboration, I am excited to introduce you to the Council’s new Global Philanthropy Update. Every month, we will highlight resources available through the Council and share important news from the field.

Continuing our blog post series about the 2015 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Report (GSB), this week let’s take a look at the third chapter, “Issues Specific to the Chief Executive Officer.”

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Members, remember that you can download the GSB for free.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

When I noticed late last year that the Council on Foundations’ annual conference would focus on climate change, I was delighted. For The Fund for New Jersey and other place-based funders, climate change has been a daunting challenge. We are a small foundation in a state with no coal-fired plants and we anticipated from the beginning that there would be a limit to what we could accomplish on this global problem.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

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.