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 in the 2015 Council on Foundations–Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations® (CCSF) show that participating private foundations reported an average return of 0.0 percent for the 2015 fiscal year (January 1 – December 31, 2015), down from the 6.1 percent return reported for FY2014, while participating community foundations reported an average annual return of -1.8 percent compared with 4.8 percent for FY

The CCSF is the most comprehensive and authoritative annual survey of its kind on foundation investment and governance practices, and provides data for the benefit of foundation trustees and staff, as well as the larger community of grantees, policymakers and stakeholders. The 228 foundations participating in the 2015 CCSF represent $100.6 billion in assets. One hundred thirty private and 98 community foundations make up the Study, which covers the 2015 fiscal year (January 1-December 31, 2015). Topics covered in the Study include:

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.

D5’s Final State of the Work highlights voices of leaders in the field who share their stories of change and progress.  Some are longtime advocates; some are newer enthusiasts. Each of them shares a perspective on what has worked and what challenges remain as they lead their institutions through changes to meet the demands of a new America.

This final report catalogs the stories that tell of human impact and human struggle to create a more equitable philanthropy. Some of these stories are:

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.

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.”

Get the Report

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

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.

In this week's Washington Snapshot: