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.

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.

A new report released today by the Council on Foundations highlights the critical role that U.S. philanthropy plays in helping to realize the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The study, “From Global Goals to Local Impact,” outlines in detail how the new global development framework is universally applicable to the work of U.S. foundations, and presents concrete ways in which funders can integrate the SDGs into their domestic grantmaking.

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.

The Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing was released jointly today by the two representative organizations. The study, 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.

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.