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.

Hello, and welcome to New York City. I want to thank you for coming to our second annual Summit focused on finance and endowments.

Today, the Council on Foundations welcomes more than 200 foundation chief executive officers, chief financial officers, chief investment officers, board members, and board investment committee leaders from across the country to its annual Endowments and Finance Summit.

Today, the United States became the first high-income nation to join Kenya, Colombia, Indonesia, and Ghana as pilot countries in the SDG Philanthropy Platform. The global SDG Philanthropy Platform, managed by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Foundation Center, and UNDP, brings together foundations and philanthropists across the world to build partnerships between philanthropic organizations, the United Nations, governments, civil society, and business to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Promoting economic development is not, by itself, a charitable purpose. Grantmakers seeking to help people and communities achieve economic self-sufficiency must therefore find a connection between a proposed activity and one or more recognized charitable purposes. In this Legal Lunch Series, Suzanne and Bryan will discuss IRS rulings, court cases and activities proposed by members to help explain what is needed in order to make grants for economic development.

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.

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.

This webinar will provide members with an opportunity to obtain a detailed understanding of the Overtime Rule directly from the Department of Labor. In addition, the Council’s attorneys will explain how the Rule applies to Foundations and answer some prevalent questions that have surfaced.

Speakers Will Include: 



Justin Aiken
Corporate Cousel
Council on Foundations

Healthy relationships are at the core of any foundation's success. One of the most important relationships is that of the CEO and their Trustees. In a successful relationship, board members are more engaged, management is better aligned, and the mission is advanced. 

The Council on Foundations, a member of the Global NPO Coalition on FATF, applauds the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recent update to its counter-terrorism recommendation on NPOs, specifically grantmakers.