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.

Philanthropy has responded to COVID-19 like no other crisis in recent memory. Through increased giving, reduced restrictions, and a deeper focus on listening to communities and partners, foundations, many of whom signed the Pledge, have stepped up in this moment of crisis. Now, a year later, questions arise as to which of these practices will become the “new normal”, while many still ask what more can be done. Join the Council on Foundations to hear from a range of speakers from different philanthropic organizations on how COVID-19 has reshaped their work and what they think the future entails for philanthropy.
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Recent letters to Government Officials that the Council has signed on to.
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The COVID-19 global pandemic defined 2020, and it will continue to impact much of the world in the foreseeable future. How did grantmakers and donors respond as communities worldwide struggled – especially Black, Indigenous, and people of color as well as other populations that have been systemically marginalized and underserved – amid the pandemic’s impact on livelihoods, health, education, and more?
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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.