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.

“Have a great day and let your sun shine!” These are my departing words for my 8-year-old daughter every morning at drop off. It’s my rally cry hoping she unleashes her true self on the world (well, ok, her second-grade classroom) in everything she does.

I initially became interested in philanthropy while serving as artistic director of The Harmony Theatre Company, which I cofounded while an undergraduate at Columbia University. Navigating the funding landscape was a nigh-constant challenge, and it was clear that I would need to ascertain quite a bit more if Harmony were to be an artistically successful and financially viable endeavor. 

What an incredible announcement on May 19 by billionaire and philanthropist Robert F. Smith who pledged to pay off the student loans of all 2019 Morehouse College graduates. How great for these students. However, as some observe, this incredible gesture of generosity may have a downside in the form of a potential tax bill for the students receiving the debt forgiveness.

Social impact organizations do tough but vital work in under-resourced spaces — spaces constantly shrinking due to humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters, armed conflict and oppressive governments. The international donor community’s response to this challenging landscape has increasingly shifted toward strengthening local efforts, recognizing that a resilient local civil society is better suited to address challenges than external assistance.

Women’s foundations and funds have established themselves as a powerful force in philanthropy dedicated to women and girls. Giving from these organizations is substantial, but aside from a 2009 landscape report from the Foundation Center and Women’s Funding Network, our understanding of women’s foundations and funds is quite limited.

Council on Foundations and National League of Cities will convene the last of three conversations across the United States on racial equity. With support from the Lumina Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation, philanthropic and government leaders will come together to raise awareness about the social impact of structural racism while highlighting current efforts to dissolve and resolve racial conflict and disparity.

Leaders in every sector are struggling to plan for a future in which social, digital, political and economic forces create unpredictable change quicker than ever – and the philanthropic field is no exception. To survive and thrive in this turbulent environment, philanthropic leaders must learn to read early signs of imminent upheaval, adapt their organizations in time and take advantage of new opportunities.

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Council on Foundations announced the 2019 winners of the Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships. The awards recognize innovative partnerships between foundations and government that have been critical in transforming communities and improving the quality of life for low-and moderate-income residents across the country.