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.

This report offers the most comprehensive information available on staff composition and compensation for U.S. foundations. It contains salaries for 35 full-time positions; allows grantmakers to benchmark compensation against their peers by foundation type, asset size, and region; and offers extensive information on benefits policies and practices. Council members can access the report for FREE!

Read Vikki Spruill's Commentary on the Findings.

Foundation recordkeeping is an inherently dull topic—unless it’s done wrong. The foundation manager who has not kept adequate documentation regarding expenditure responsibility grants will surely find an IRS audit more exciting than he might like. Similarly, a foundation manager confronted with a trustee succession battle will find the situation even more nerve-racking if she cannot put her hands on copies of the minutes of the meeting held years ago at which the succession issue was addressed and resolved.

With Congress and the media focusing on corporate governance and foundation administration, it is a good time to make sure that all grantmakers have a strong conflict of interest policy in place. Both private foundations and public charities (such as community foundations) should have clear guidelines on financial or other interests that must be disclosed and transactions that must be scrutinized or avoided. The policy should cover both board members and foundation staff.

The 2014 Board Compensation Tables provide foundations with tools to benchmark their board compensation practices against peers in the field. Containing data collected through the Council’s 2014 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits survey, this report offers detailed breakdowns of the data by foundation type and asset size. 

The 2014 Salary Tables provide aggregate information on staff salaries among U.S. foundations and corporate giving programs. The tables compile data on nearly 9,500 full-time employees from across the country, and include information by type of foundation and region. Mean, median, range, 25th, and 75th percentiles are provided.

The most comprehensive annual survey of its kind on private foundation investment practices and governance. The 153 foundations participating in the 2013 CCSF represent $94.1 billion in assets. Topics covered in the study include:

Thriving Philanthropy Makes Thriving Communities

There are several proposals being considered in Congress that have significant implications for philanthropy and its effectiveness in addressing some of our most pressing challenges. In addition to educating lawmakers in Washington, D.C., communicating the impact locally is just as important! Here are some ways your organization can spread the word about the correlation between philanthropy and thriving communities.

Media Outreach

Letter to the Editor

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