Private 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 foundation” is the umbrella term that includes corporate, independent, family, and operating foundations.  As of 2011, there were 73,764 private foundations in the United States (Foundation Center, 2011).  

In 2011, private foundations held more than $604 billion in assets and gave away more than $45 billion (Foundation Center, 2011).  

Below is everything on our site for private foundations. You can use the filtering options on the right to narrow these results.

In June 2018, we saw concerning new developments related to the use of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) in targeting U.S. non-profits that also work internationally. The House Committee on Natural Resources sent a letter to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as part of an investigation into the “potential manipulation of tax-exempt 501(c) organizations by foreign entities to influence U.S.

On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) introduced the Reducing Excessive Debt and Unfair Costs of Education (REDUCE) Act of 2018 (H.R. 5916). The bill comes as part of a broad plan Rep. Reed announced in late 2016 to address college affordability. The proposal targets colleges and university endowment-spending practices and gift acceptance policies as a means of increasing affordability.

The Council's 2018 summer internsI have been eager to intern at the Council on Foundations since I received my acceptance letter. While coming into this experience, I did not know what exactly the Council was, I am excited to learn more about the sector and help achieve the organization’s goals. I am 1 of 7 interns here at CoF for the summer.

The administrative costs of operating a private foundation often prove too burdensome and can easily swamp the grantmaking activity of private foundations, especially the smaller ones. As such, a foundation may decide to transfer its assets to a Sponsoring Organization to take advantage of the administrative efficiencies of using a donor advised fund, all the while supporting its exempt purpose.

The Council on Foundations has named Ruth LaToison Ifill as its new Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She will lead efforts to develop and implement strategic initiatives, tools, educational programs and opportunities that foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion among philanthropic organizations.


The Council would like to thank all of the sponsors for their support of the 2018 Endowments & Finance Summit.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a sponsor, contact Sheden Alsaaty at or 703-879-0616.