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.

This member update focused principally on important issues related to foundation financial management and endowment performance.

The 2016 Salary Tables provide aggregate information on staff salaries among U.S. foundations and corporate giving programs. This data is typically used by foundations to make staffing decisions and provide appropriate compensation for new hires or existing employees. The 2016 Salary Tables include compensation data from nearly 10,000 full-time employees from the 1,010 organizations that participated in the 2016 survey. Responses came from across the country and the tables examine compensation by position, type of foundation, asset size, and region.

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:

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.

Many of our members are working with grantees on the ground in countries and communities directly impacted by terrorist violence, all over the world. Alongside partners like the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, the Council is tracking how and where philanthropy is responding to these attacks, and we will share what we find with our members.


Crises where our international partners have established funds:

How Philanthropy Can Help Achieve the
U.N. Sustainable Development Goals in the U.S.

As implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals becomes a priority of the world, philanthropy has an opportunity to make an impact. This report from the Council on Foundations examines how U.S. funders can view their work in the global development framework and contribute to the success of the goals in the United States.

The Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing, believed to be the largest of its kind, provides foundations with invaluable insights into how the sector and individual portfolios are being shaped by responsible investing practices, potential hurdles to their adoption, and what the entry points are for those interested in fully engaging these practices in their endowment strategies.