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.

West Central Initiative (WCI) is one of six community foundations in Minnesota created by the McKnight Foundation in 1986 to response to the farm crisis. Together, we cover the area of the state called “Greater Minnesota.” We have cities and towns in all of our regions, but we are commonly understood to be representative of rural Minnesota.

I once joked with a friend that I had no personality of my own, rather that I was made up of a Frankenstein patchwork of all the people I’ve met. The tendency to wander in my storytelling? Let me introduce you to my late grandfather. The courage to opine on things not even remotely in my ken? Let me introduce you to my father and mother, my college professors, and the characters that set out on all sorts of adventures in the books I love. The obsession with equity?

Private Grantmakers include private, independent and family foundations, along with operating private foundations, grantmaking LLCs and private health-conversion foundations.

Need more information? A member of our team is available to assist at membership@cof.org.

At our Chicago learning session, I was inspired by the approaches of colleagues from the MacArthur, Kellogg, Joyce, Grand Victoria, and California Wellness foundations, alongside friends from BoardSource and the Council on Foundations.

During the United Nations General Assembly in late September, Heads of State, government officials, civil society, and the philanthropic and commercial private sector will convene in New York with a focus on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). UHC is a key part of Sustainable Development Goal 3 and a shared commitment by United Nations member states to ensure everyone has access to health services without undue financial hardship. The vision is lofty and worthy, but the barriers are plentiful.

Previewing the UN General Assembly: A global community of actors

The world faces pressing challenges that require global responses – the climate crisis, entrenched inequality, migration, and more. But with international cooperation increasingly at risk, actions taken at the local level are ever more vital. 

The upcoming high-level week of the UN General Assembly will put these issues front and center on the international agenda and mobilize action on the challenges that matter to Americans and to people around the world.

After working in the philanthropic field for the past 10 years, the Council on Foundations Career Pathways Program gave me the opportunity—and frankly the time—to seriously consider being an executive leader in the sector. It’s not something I could always see for myself.

I am happy to say I can see it clearly now.

Disaster Overview

Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on Sunday, September 1 and was the strongest storm to ever make landfall in the Atlantic. Although it decreased in strength as it made its way toward the U.S. Atlantic Coast, it made a total of five landfalls -- three in Bahamas, a U.S. landfall in North Carolina and a final one in Canada. This page will be regularly updated with more resources and information on any funds established to support disaster response and recovery. 

An overview of charitable giving in India by Charities Aid Foundation.