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.

Award Nominations

The Council is currently accepting nominations for the 2017 Robert W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking. Nominate a courageous leader and innovative grantmaker today.

For the last three years, I’ve noticed a growing trend in community foundations asking for support to make international grants, often from donor or corporate advised funds.

In May, I invited the Council on Foundations' private foundation members to participate in a survey to help me gather information that will shape future Council programming tailored to private foundations. The results of the survey identified several areas of interest and need.

Participants answered two main questions:

  1. What topics would you most like to learn about or discuss at an event?
  2. What are the top three challenges you are facing right now?

 The topics which received the most interest are: 

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  • Senate Finance Committee to consider Mr. Kautter’s nomination today
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In This Week's Edition of Snapshot…

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  • House Appropriations Committee to consider Johnson Amendment provision in a bill markup today
  • Senate Finance to hold confirmation hearing for Kautter
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The Council’s Global Team is excited to welcome a new addition! Nicolette Gerald is a graduate of George Mason University with a bachelor’s degree in government and international politics. She will be spending the next two months with us as a summer intern before beginning her graduate studies in public policy this fall.

June is Immigrant Heritage Month, a time during which we celebrate our origins as a nation of immigrants. The Council’s staff, its board, it strategic partners, its member organizations and the communities they serve are all inclusive of immigrants. As a national organization and a leading voice within the philanthropic sector, the Council takes great pride in the diversity represented by this immigrant population and the rich difference of perspectives it brings to the important work our members do. 

Editor’s Note: The Council’s legal team regularly receives questions regarding the data security of foundation operations and donor and grantee information. Lara Kalwinski, Senior Counsel, connected with Lucy Bernholz to find the right expert to break down these issues for us.

In This Week's Edition of Snapshot…

  • Hill Briefing on Charitable Giving and Tax Reform
  • Tax Reform Update: Brady Insists on Complete Overhaul Instead of Mere Tax Cuts
  • Senate Delays Health Care Vote, Complicates Tax Reform Timeline
  • In the States: Lack of budgets in three states creating challenges, calls to action; Demonstrating nonprofit impact in St. Louis