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.

Although the terms “fiscal agent” or “fiscal agency” are sometimes used by community foundations when they mean to refer to a fiscal sponsorship, we always try to stress that this is inaccurate and should be avoided.
As communities and the nation begin the process of recovery, how can philanthropy support a more equitable, inclusive future through civic engagement and advocacy? Join this Leading Together 2021 preconference session to hear from thought leaders, foundation executives, and advocates who are working at the forefront of social change and challenging existing policies that maintain the status quo.
Join us for this Leading Together 2021 preconference session as we examine the most pressing challenges facing global funders and the communities they support, and how foundations can work more effectively across borders.
Partner with us for Leading Together 2021. Sponsorship is one of the best ways to elevate your organization as a thought leader and highlight your commitment to advancing the work of the philanthropic sector.
Answers to questions about participating in the Corporate Legal Ask Me Anything taking place May 6, 2021 from 2-3 p.m. on the Philanthropy Exchange.
As a corporate grantmaker, do you have questions about legal challenges impacting your work? From self-dealing considerations to legal rules around scholarships and employee assistance programs, all topics are up for discussion and support from the Council’s legal team during our Corporate Legal Ask Me Anything.