Independent Foundations

Private foundations make grants based on charitable endowments. The endowment funds come from one or a small handful of sources -- an individual, a family or a corporation. Because of their endowments, they are focused primarily on grantmaking and generally do not raise funds or seek public financial support the way public charities (like community foundations) must.

Private independent foundations are distinct from private family or corporate foundations in that an independent foundation is not governed by the benefactor, the benefactor’s family or a corporation. Of the largest private foundations in the United States, most are independent foundations, although they may have begun as family foundations or were converted from corporate foundations. There is no official IRS or legal definition of independent foundations, so it is difficult to arrive at statistics that are fully representative of the field.

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.

We are in a moment of dramatic change and re-imagining, what my friend the futurist Ari Wallach calls “The Intertidal”: a significant shift in global human culture and narrative, where what has been gives way to what will be.
Schedule for the 2021 Public Policy Summit
Please join your community foundation colleagues in person or online for the 2021 HYBRID Annual National Conference for Growing Community Foundations. Travel for some good old-fashioned networking and professional development to embrace peers you have missed or explore what modern technology has to offer to help you stay remote yet meet new and old friends virtually while learning in the comfort of your home/office. Dive into the deep content live or listen to the recording at your convenience later during the year. From “blind-dates” and group discussions for the online attendees to interactive sessions connecting both audiences --- there are plenty of fun ways to bond, learn, and grow! The West and the East, the North and the South come together to network and share experiences with others just as passionate about community foundations!
A few years ago, in my role guiding strategy and programs at the Democracy Fund, I took some time to explore the idea of "trust." It was a construct that came up over and over again in conversations about democracy – for instance, do we trust elections to be safe and secure? What news sources can we trust? Do we still trust our institutions?
The Council on Foundations today announced the launch of an executive-in-residence program to support its new strategic direction. The program will leverage the expertise of executive-level leaders to shape new areas of work that advance the Council’s long-term goals of supporting philanthropy to be a trusted partner in advancing the greater good.
The Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act would decelerate the expansion of charitable giving by adding complexity for foundations and donors and making it harder for philanthropy to address emerging and long-term challenges.
On June 9, 2021, Senators King (I-ME) and Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act. The bill modifies existing rules relating to donor advised funds (“DAFs”), creates an excise tax on sponsoring organizations, and makes certain changes to the rules governing private foundations. The Council on Foundations opposes the ACE Act because, in its current form, the Act would do the exact opposite of decelerate the expansion of charitable giving in the United States.
2021 HR Retreat Sponsorship Opportunities
Schedule for the 2021 HR Retreat.
Registration for the 2021 HR Retreat