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. The 2015 Full Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Report:

The 2015 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 2015 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits survey, this report offers detailed breakdowns of the data by foundation type and asset size. 

The 2015 Program & Administrative Expenses Tables provide foundations with tools to benchmark their administrative expenses – their grants, salaries, qualifying distributions, etc. – against peers in the field. Containing data collected through the Council’s 2015 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits survey, this report offers detailed breakdowns of the data by foundation type, staff size, geographic location, and asset size. The report does not examine fees associated with fund operations at community foundations.

By David A. Levitt

Helpful article published by Adler & Colvin summarizing the key differences between Mission-Related and Program-Related Investments for Private Foundations. The article also lays out many of the necessary legal and regulatory questions when determining if an impact investing strategy is appropriate for a given situation.

This guide, published by Confluence Philanthropy, focuses on how a foundation can leverage its assets in service of its mission by investing cash locally through community-based financing. It reviews the different types of depositories, as well as the steps on how to get started carrying your cash, and also features two foundation case studies.

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.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has an excellent primer of basic tips for disaster giving that can help funders ask the right questions about how they can help.

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.

D5′s 2014 State of the Work highlights new tools and resources, recently completed research, and new organizational approaches that can help foundations and philanthropic organizations take action, achieve their goals regarding DEI, and advance the common good.