The Council on Foundations, formed in 1949, is a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. Members of the Council include more than 1,700 independent, operating, community, public and company-sponsored foundations, and corporate giving programs in the United States and abroad.


Balancing Purpose, Payout, and Permanence

Posted on August 30, 2020 by Council on Foundations, National Center for Family Philanthropy, Tony Macklin

Be sure to watch the recording of the related webinar. In partnership with the Council on Foundations, the National Center for Family Philanthropy is pleased to release Balancing Purpose, Payout, and Permanence: Strategy Guide. How much should we spend? This is an essential question for foundations, and one of the most complex, particularly in moments of change or turmoil. This… Read More
Voices from the Field

The Effects of Family Culture on Family Foundations

Posted on June 10, 2019 by Council on Foundations

family silhouette at sunset
Yet it is exactly this—a characteristic way of thinking, feeling, judging, and acting—that defines a culture. In direct and subtle ways, children are molded by the family culture into which they are born. Growing up, their assumptions about what is right and wrong, good and bad, reflect the beliefs, values and traditions of the family culture. Most take for granted their family’s ways, and they carry into adulthood numerous attitudes and behaviors acquired in childhood… Read More

Recommended Best Practices in Managing Foundation Endowments

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Council on Foundations

While foundations differ in sophistication, resources, staff, and amount of financial resources, there are both specific responsibilities incumbent on foundation boards and generally accepted principles for investment management. These best practices are universal to effective management of investment portfolios as applied to fit the specific circumstances of each foundation… Read More

10 Things Every New Foundation Board Member Should Know

Posted on November 8, 2013 by Council on Foundations, BoardSource

This publication is designed as a basic guidebook for the new foundation board member, providing an introduction to tools and knowledge essential in the first years of service on the board. While it is not a substitute for legal, financial or other professional advice, it will help inform you about the responsibilities that accompany board service. This tool was developed… Read More

Stewarship Principles for Family Foundations from the Council on Foundations

Posted on April 15, 2004 by Council on Foundations

Families strive to be responsible stewards of their foundation resources, to uphold the public trust and to practice their philanthropy in ways that reflect fundamental values, including honesty, integrity, fairness and trust. As private entities operating for public purposes, family foundations must comply with federal, state and local law––but most go further. These Stewardship Principles and Options to Strengthen Performance,… Read More

The Five Percent Minimum Payout Requirement

Posted on December 1, 2000 by Council on Foundations

The purpose behind the minimum payout requirement is to prevent foundations from simply receiving gifts, investing the assets and never spending any funds on charitable purposes. This report, developed by the Council on Foundations, describes the payout requirement, how to calculate payout, penalties for violating the rule, and other details relating to this important requirement for private foundations… Read More

Getting Oriented

Posted on November 8, 1999 by Council on Foundations

Defining roles, helping new board members make an early contribution, and providing information on the foundation’s operations are all part of an important function that sometimes receives inadequate attention— board orientation. While some foundationsseelittleturnoveramongtrustees,others add several new people each year. New foundations find themselves facing the challenge of bringing a whole group up to working speed. And family foundations struggle… Read More

Always in the family?

Posted on November 8, 1995 by Council on Foundations

Should family foundation board members always be family members? Not necessarily. While some prefer this, others find that a few outside voices can enrich the governance and decision-making of the foundation… Read More