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.

The Council launched a new approach to membership to better reflect the diversity of the field, but what does that mean for you? Join this members-only conference call to hear more about the model, understand the new renewal process and get your questions answered by Council staff.
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors' guide for philanthropy on aligning with the SDGs.
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors' guide for philanthropy to get started with the SDGs.
Brookings Institution report on the experiences of vanguard cities in implementing the SDGs.
Read the latest UN and Country Regulatory updates, Global Philanthropy & Development News, and more.
West Central Initiative (WCI) is one of six community foundations in Minnesota created by the McKnight Foundation in 1986 to response to the farm crisis. Together, we cover the area of the state called “Greater Minnesota.” We have cities and towns in all of our regions, but we are commonly understood to be representative of rural Minnesota.
When I first met this cohort, I knew immediately that we were destined for a similar fate. The power to move and change was in the room the first time we gathered, and we’ve already begun to see what we build when we operate in concert. Yes, as individuals, we’re rather wonderful, but as a cohort, we are formidable.
Since joining the Council’s board last year, I’ve had the honor to support two pivotal decisions that will shape the organization’s future – selecting a new President & CEO and launching the Council’s new membership model. This is an exciting time for the Council on Foundations and I am confident we are taking an approach that will better meet the needs of members and partners for years to come.
Public charities are grantmaking organizations that include intermediary grantmakers, health-conversion foundations, and public charities that make grants and operate programs. All grantmaking public charities are welcome to join as members.
At our Chicago learning session, I was inspired by the approaches of colleagues from the MacArthur, Kellogg, Joyce, Grand Victoria, and California Wellness foundations, alongside friends from BoardSource and the Council on Foundations. Over the course of three days, these brilliant women (yes, they were all women!) tackled various aspects of organizational leadership: being the CEO, managing board relationships, re-imagining grantmaking processes and tools, leading organizational change, tackling investments and finances, communicating effectively, and understanding key legal issues in the field.