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. Due to the large number of resources on our website, we highly recommend you use the site navigation or the search feature to find what you are looking for.

In this week's edition of Snapshot: News from the Council, News from the Hill, Executive and Regulatory Affairs and Happening in the States.
Answers to questions about participating in the Ask Me Anything taking place December 7, 2020 from 1-2 p.m. on the Philanthropy Exchange.
This year the Council will host a series of virtual events that will offer members the opportunity to hear directly from Council leaders and peers on some of philanthropy’s most important challenges and opportunities. We hope these free events will provide connection, insight, and inspiration for the future.
The Council on Foundations joins all Americans in expecting a careful accounting of all votes and an expeditious and certain outcome in the 2020 Presidential election. Whatever the result, we are heartened by the historic turnout because a healthy democracy depends on robust participation from citizens.
Two new laws in Nicaragua, The Law for the Regulation of Foreign Agents and The Special Law on Cybercrimes, will fundamentally reshape how foreign funders can support Nicaraguan nonprofits and how civic space is regulated in the country.
Do you have a question about the strategic direction of the Council? Curious how the team is managing in uncertain times? Or just want to get to know the team better? This is the time to ask us anything.
End the week with an hour of wellness and networking. The wellness activity will be a resiliency themed meditation led by our partners at Chill Anywhere. Following the meditation, we will play a fun game of trivia and host networking breakout rooms to connect members across interest, roles, and opportunities. This will be a fun and casual event for all staff members!
Sponsors for the 2020 Public Policy Summit.
Earlier this year, the Council on Foundations issued a COVID-19 Call to Action to its community of domestic and international funders, asking foundations to provide unrestricted funding to grantee organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This call to action prompted a timely discussion with several of Give2Asia’s funding partners about the trade-offs of offering unrestricted funding generally. We continue to welcome these conversations and encourage funders and other intermediaries to consider whether general support grantmaking needs renewed focus as a best practice.
The Annual Member Meeting is the kickoff event for Member Week. The Member Meeting will start with a keynote remarks from Fred Blackwell, CEO of San Francisco Foundation, and conclude with a brief Member Meeting where Kathleen Enright, Council President & CEO, will share the State of the Council and members will vote on the new additions to the Board of Directors.