Family Foundations

The Council on Foundations defines a family foundation as one whose funds are derived from members of a single family, though this is not a legal term and has no precise definition. The Council on Foundations suggests that family foundations have at least one family member serving 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.

Family foundations make up over half of all private (family, corporate, independent, and operating) foundations, or 40,456 out of approximately 73,764 foundations (Foundation Center, 2011). Family foundations make up approximately one-third of the Council’s membership.

Family foundations range in asset size from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 billion. The holdings of family foundations total approximately $294 billion, or about 44 percent of all foundation holdings of $662 billion. Despite this, three out of five family foundations hold assets of less than $1 million. Family foundations gave away approximately $21.3 billion in grants in 2011 (The Foundation Center, 2011).

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

The Trump administration has released its budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2019, with calls for increased military and defense spending as well as for additional funding to combat the opioid crisis. To pay for increased spending areas, the proposal suggests slashing funding for a number of domestic programs—including Medicare. The budget proposal totals $4.4 trillion, and would add $7 trillion to the deficit over the next ten years.

When I first learned of the Council on Foundations’ Career Pathways program, I wasn’t sure whether I should apply. I was interested by the programs’ goal to increase the number of people of color in senior and executive positions in philanthropy and to thereby deepen capacity for impact in the field, but facing a looming deadline made me think it’d be best to wait until next year. When I realized a friend of mine, Fatima Angeles at The California Wellness Foundation, was a member of the inaugural class of 2009, I reached out for her thoughts. Her recommendation?

Last week in Mexico City, the Council co-hosted the first ever North American Community Foundations Summit, which brought together more than 200 leaders to discuss how we can truly leave no one behind and achieve the SDGs in North America by 2030. It was a powerful conversation about our shared challenges; discussing complex issues like poverty, inequality, climate change, immigration, trade, and more.

Have you read your institution's 990-PF lately? Have you ever stopped to think what headlines it might inspire? The IRS recently started releasing e-filed Forms 990 and 990-PF as machine-readable, open data. Because the data is now not only open, but digital and machine-readable this means that anyone from journalists to researchers to activists can aggregate this data and make comparisons, correlations, and judgments about philanthropy at lightning speed, all without your input.

Coming out of a historic meeting that brought together philanthropic leaders from Canada, Mexico and the United States, more than 80 philanthropic leaders have joined in solidarity and pledged to work to reduce poverty and increase opportunity for all across North America.

More than 200 leaders from across North America gathered in Mexico City for the inaugural North American Community Foundations Summit on February 5-6, 2018.

Out of this historic gathering, the Council on Foundations and event co-hosts Community Foundations of Canada and Comunalia from Mexico launched a shared statement of commitment to connect, learn, and exchange across borders in order to leave no one behind and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in all communities. 

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Nonprofit and philanthropic leaders renewed their call for preserving the Johnson Amendment, the longstanding law that protects their organizations from the divisiveness of partisan politics. The call comes as House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) used the National Prayer Breakfast to express support for repealing this important protection.