Private 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 foundation” is the umbrella term that includes corporate, independent, family, and operating foundations.  As of 2011, there were 73,764 private foundations in the United States (Foundation Center, 2011).  

In 2011, private foundations held more than $604 billion in assets and gave away more than $45 billion (Foundation Center, 2011).  

Below is everything on our site for private foundations. You can use the filtering options on the right to narrow these results.

Data gathered from 244 private and community foundations participating in the 2014 Council on Foundations–Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community FoundationsTM (CCSF) show that the 142 private foundations participating in the study reported an average return of 6.1 percent for the 2014 fiscal year (January 1 – December 31, 2014), down from the 15.6 percent return reported for FY2013, while the 102 participating community foundations reported an average return of 4.8 percent for FY2014 compared to last year’s average return of 15.2 percent.

Bipartisan consensus around criminal justice reform is growing nationally with more foundations increasing their efforts to change the way we think about prisons and public safety. As this issue continues to gain momentum, we ask how can philanthropy take a leadership role in reforming the criminal justice system in America?

Join the Council on Foundations for a Twitter Chat, Wednesday, August 26 from 12-1 PM ET, as we explore these important questions together.

The Foundation HR Alliance is a newly-established forum for private foundations to connect and have ongoing dialogue around human resources issues of great importance: compensation, benefits, performance management, talent management and leadership.

Last week, I got to see philanthropy in action on a great trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan. After just a few days of meeting with philanthropic leaders in Western Michigan, I had new energy, new ideas, and more proof that collaboration is driving the field forward.

I was grateful to have been invited by Diana Sieger, President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, to see its work in action.  I got to tour the city and learn about philanthropic projects around the area. I learned about collaborative efforts like:

Please join the Council on Foundations and WINGS  for a webinar about the shrinking space for philanthropy and civil society globally. 

Join the Council on Foundations, nonprofit media organizations, foundations, journalists, academics, and other stakeholders for a conversation about the role of nonprofit media in fostering a vibrant civil society in local communities.

The Council actively asserts its leadership role in the global policy space to ensure a positive regulatory environment for global philanthropy. To do that, the Council develops substantive policy positions on behalf of its members and submits regulatory comments and letters to U.S. policymakers, foreign governments and intergovernmental bodies, and advocates before domestic and international bodies that set policies that impact cross-border philanthropy.

The Council on Foundations supports mandatory electronic filing of Form 990s and publicly-available data about the nonprofit sector, while cautioning lawmakers to involve nonprofits in implementation and ensure adequate data protection.

Several years ago, the IRS began requiring electronic filing, or e-filing, of Forms 990 and 990-PF for certain classes of tax-exempt organizations; it also made e-filing an option for all filers. Many organizations already choose to e-file for the efficiency it affords, and each year increasing numbers of organizations are making the transition.

The Council supports recent efforts by the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and Internal Revenue Services (IRS) to provide much-needed clarity on the political activities of tax-exempt organizations. However, the Council strongly opposes any new rules that would dampen nonpartisan activities and civic engagement efforts of nonprofit organizations.