Public Foundations

Public foundations are grantmaking public charities that gain their funds from a variety of sources, which may include foundations, individuals, corporations, or public entities. Public foundations may engage in fundraising, and may seek broad public financial support. They may or may not have endowments. There is no legal definition of a public foundation, but most dedicate a significant portion of their annual budgets to grantmaking. Most community foundations are also grantmaking public charities.

Since public foundations may be defined in different ways, and there is no official IRS or legal definition of public foundations, it is difficult to arrive at statistics that are fully representative of the field.

Below is everything on our site for public 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 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.