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.

Nonprofits and their funders know this challenge all too well—an organization has a great idea, so they begin to seek capital from funders or foundations. They hear the same answer regularly – “It sounds like a great idea. Come back to us after you’re further along.”
In response to a rise in anti-democratic extremism and hate groups in the U.S., the Council on Foundations (Council) today released Values-Aligned Philanthropy: Foundations Resisting Hate and Extremism. The report and accompanying online resource hub are part of the Council’s efforts to prevent hate funding within the philanthropic sector.
In late 2020, the Council on Foundations (the Council) launched the Values-Aligned Philanthropy project to continue to build on their previous efforts within the philanthropic sector to respond to growing concern about the issue of funding hate and extremism. The Council took this step recognizing that while there is significant work being done by grantmakers and social sector leaders across the country to prevent hate funding, there has not been a comprehensive analysis of what has been done and who is doing what from the perspective of philanthropy. The Council believes that mapping the eco-system will provide a baseline for identifying gaps, best practices, and next steps to addressing this problem. The Values-Aligned Philanthropy project is funded by the Gill Foundation. Research and writing for the project have been provided by Roey Thorpe, an independent consultant, with guidance from Council staff.
Join us for the Council's Annual Member Meeting. The Member Meeting will start with keynote remarks from the to-be-announced winner of the Distinguished Service Award, and conclude with a 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.
Workplaces across the globe are in flux—and many are changing for the better. With more remote offerings, flexibility, and accommodations, we face a generational opportunity to codify accessibility and inclusion in institutions that have been exclusive for far too long.
The Career Pathways program is a highly selective pipeline expansion opportunity open to individuals from diverse backgrounds who are currently employed in foundations. The 2022 program applications opened Tuesday, October 5, 2021, and must be submitted by Tuesday, November 2, 2021. Join us for this information with the Career Pathways Council Team to learn about the 2022 program!
Speakers for the 2021 HR Retreat.
As we continue to navigate a new normal amid a global pandemic, philanthropy has a moral obligation to create spaces for everyone’s voice to be heard, valued, and represented in building common ground to achieve more together. How do we advance the greater good in our community? How do we build trust among donors to tackle old, perpetual problems in new ways? How do we build our capacity to lead in courageous ways in a climate that is more politically charged than ever before? Where is the balance in our dialogue as we work to allow others in? What does the roadmap look like for the future? 
Updated information about the impact of Hurricane Ida on communities and resources for foundations.
Public Policy and Advocacy for Grantmakers provides a roadmap for how foundations can advance their mission and goals by participating in public policy advocacy. The publication includes stories of how foundations across the country have been successful in their policy and advocacy efforts, recommendations and resources for how to engage in public policy and advocacy, and guidance and information specific to public and community foundations.