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.

In January, we kicked off our work to Reimagine Council Membership, and since then, we’ve heard from more than 450 foundations via an open survey, an external task force, and a series of focus groups with resigned and current members of the Council.  

What do you do when you have a difficult and complex problem? If you’re like me, you start by trying to understand it. You think the problem through from all angles, looking at the data, talking to people in your community. You study the problem, inside out.

What is the highest and best role for philanthropy? And how can the Council support our members and the field to reach our potential and address the most pressing issues of our time? Join Kathleen Enright, President and CEO of The Council on Foundations, for an interactive visioning session to explore these key questions and share insights and feedback on how a reimagined Council can best serve the field of philanthropy and advance public good.

Are you a grantmaker committed to LGBTQ issues? Did you know in 2017, grantmaking by U.S. foundations in support of organizations and programs addressing LGBTQ issues totaled $185.7 million, and the South became the most funded region with more than $22 million in funding, occupying the top position for the first time since we began tracking funding by region. 
 

Last month, we announced our work to Reimagine Council Membership and asked for feedback as we review Council membership and dues.

More than 400 individuals – representing grantmaking organizations of different types, sizes, geographies, and member status – responded to our survey and shared ideas on how we can improve Council membership, programs, and value for institutions and for the field.

The CCSF is the field's most comprehensive and authoritative study on investment and governance practices at private and community foundations. The goal is to provide a unique information source for financial and investment staff, trustees and investment committee members of the nation’s private and community foundations. Your participation is key to achieving this goal.

Key Dates

The 2018 Survey will be open from March 13 through May 31, and the results will be released in August 2019. 

Created in 2017, the Global Goals Mapping Tool is a comprehensive resource that maps giving and volunteerism using both the IRS National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) codes and the United Nations International Classification of Nonprofit Organizations (ICNPO) codes to classify the activity and programs of charities and connect them to the SDGs.