Public Foundations

Public foundations are grantmaking public charities that gain their funds from a variety of sources, which may include foundations, individuals, corporations, or public entities. Public foundations may engage in fundraising, and may seek broad public financial support. They may or may not have endowments. There is no legal definition of a public foundation, but most dedicate a significant portion of their annual budgets to grantmaking. Most community foundations are also grantmaking public charities.

Since public foundations may be defined in different ways, and there is no official IRS or legal definition of public foundations, it is difficult to arrive at statistics that are fully representative of the field.

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

Violence affects all aspects of life and results in considerable physical, emotional, social, and economic consequences. The statistics are hard to ignore:

The Council on Foundations’ Foundation Management Series provides foundation boards and staff with the tools needed to benchmark their practices and operations against peers in the field. Containing data from the Council’s 2009 Foundation Management survey, the series consists of three reports: Board Composition and Compensation, Administrative and Investment Expenses, and Fiscal Oversight.

Board Composition and Compensation

Board Composition and Compensation offers findings on foundation policies regarding board compensation and diversity.

Toward Creating a More Informed Public

What is nonprofit media?

Nonprofit media groups are organizations that seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as public charities. These diverse organizations serve a valuable role in educating citizens through in-depth public interest reporting, including investigative journalism, news reports, explanatory journalism, solutions journalism, and specialty journalism, in order to elevate important social topics, particularly at the local level.

How is the Council involved?

Foundations often play an essential role in disaster relief and recovery. Not only do foundations provide grants and help raise money, they also use their experience and expertise to help civic leaders and responders distribute aid and rebuild communities.

Our disaster grantmaking resource page provides a primer on disaster philanthropy and access to an array of resources from Council members and peer organizations to assist in the three phases of disaster response and recovery:

With the Obama Administration's promise to end the wars in the Middle East by 2014, close to 1.5 million veterans are returning in a compressed timeframe and are likely to overwhelm the government's ability to serve them adequately. We have consistently heard concerns from federal officials about the service provision capacity needed in communities as young veterans increasingly seek services from community providers and not from the federal government.

The Council on Foundations defines “international grantmaking” to include grants made by U.S. foundations and corporations to overseas recipients as well as grants made to U.S.-based organizations operating international programs. This includes grants made toward activities wholly within the Unites States that have significant international purpose and impact.

U.S. foundations and corporations interested in international grantmaking have several options:

Under the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA), any organization that is not required to file Form 990 because it is a “small public charity” will be required to submit an annual 990-N report to the IRS. The IRS posted FAQ's with additional information about the filing requirement. A “small public charity” is one that has annual gross receipts normally less than $50,000 (or $25,000 for tax years ending after December 31, 2007 and before December 31, 2010).

Under the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA), the rules for public disclosure of the Form 990-T by public charities and private foundations became identical to those for Form 990.

Which forms are affected?

Any Form 990-T filed after August 17, 2006.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) imposes requirements for determining the charitable deduction permitted for gifts of fractional interests in tangible personal property. 

What contributions are affected?

These requirements apply to contributions made after August 17, 2006.

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