What is a family foundation?
"Family foundation" is not a legal term. Therefore, it has no precise definition. The Council on Foundations defines a family foundation as one whose funds are derived from members of a single family. At least one family member must continue to serve as an officer or board member of the foundation and, as the donor, that individual (or a relative) must play a significant role in governing and/or managing the foundation. Most family foundations are run by family members who serve as trustees or directors on a voluntary basis. In many cases, second- and third-generation descendants of the original donors manage the foundation.
How many family foundations are there in the United States?
Family foundations make up almost half of all private (corporate, independent, operating, and community) foundations, or 38,339 out of approximately 75,595 foundations (Foundation Center, 2010). One-third of these family foundations have been established since 2000. Furthermore, family foundations make up approximately one-third of the Council’s membership.
How much money do family foundations hold?
Family foundations range in asset size from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 billion. The holdings of family foundations total approximately $246 billion, or about 43 percent of all foundation holdings of $561 billion. Despite this, three out of five family foundations hold assets of less than $1 million.
How much money do family foundations give away each year?
Family foundations gave away approximately $21.1 billion in grants in 2008, about 62 percent of all foundation giving. Furthermore, 53 percent of family foundations reported more than $50,000 in giving, with approximately 7 percent reporting $1 million or more (The Foundation Center, 2010).
Family foundation giving is as unique as each family that creates the foundation. Some families give to help others affected by tragedies they themselves have experienced, such as cancer, birth defects, domestic violence, and other social ills. Others give to repay the educational institutions, community groups, and other organizations that helped them prosper. Some family foundations concentrate on a wide variety of causes within a specific geographic area, while many limit their giving to local communities, states, and regions. However, a growing percentage are now funding internationally.