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.

The Council’s Public-Philanthropic Partnership Office hosted a webinar for funders only with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Children and Families to help foundations understand the regular programs and goals of the agency. 

The Council on Foundations offices will be closed from December 24, 2016 - January 2, 2017. During this time, Council staff is available to assist our members with their time-sensitive needs. Please dial the membership line directly at 703-879-0645 or email Membership at membership@cof.org.

This past Friday a diverse group of philanthropic leaders gathered in New York City to discuss the unexpected election results, what those results mean for our nation and what they mean for our work, both individually and as a sector. The meeting, convened by the Council on Foundations and hosted by the Ford Foundation, included representatives of private foundations, community foundations and corporate grant makers who came from all four time zones of the country. As you will see from the notes below, the group was diverse in every way, including diversity of perspective.

View from space of sunrise over the earth

2017 will be a year of change, as orthodoxies in the field get tested and philanthropy steps up and into a more prominent national role.


In early December 2016, the Chinese government released the official and final version of their new Guidelines on Organizational Registration and Temporary Activities Reporting. These guidelines provide needed information for compliance with the 2016 Law of the People’s Republic of China on Administration of Activities of Overseas Nongovernmental Organizations in the Mainland of China (Overseas NGO Law).

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

  • Update on Tax Reform Progression in the Senate
  • Charitable Giving Coalition Sends Letter to President-elect Trump
  • Final Chinese Overseas NGO Law Guidelines Released
  • States Acting to Address Budget Challenges
  • Princeton Settlement Spawns Copycat Property Tax Exemption Challenge

American Flag

The American public is divided in its attitudes toward important national issues, and historic allegiances have shifted.


Abraham Lincoln

"In this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed." ~ Abraham Lincoln