Facts and Figures

What is a foundation?

A foundation is “an entity that supports charitable activities by making grants to unrelated organizations or institutions or to individuals for scientific, educational, cultural, religious or other charitable purposes. While foundations are often primarily engaged in grantmaking activities, some may engage in their own direct charitable activities or programs.”


What are the different types of foundations?

Foundations are broadly categorized as either a private foundation or a public foundation.

Private Foundations

Private foundations are generally financially supported by one or a small handful of sources—an individual, a family or a corporation — and programs are managed by their own board of trustees or directors. Most private foundations must pay out at least 5% of their assets each year in the form of grants and operating charitable activities; a private operating foundation instead must carry out its own charitable purposes. Private foundations include corporate foundations, family foundations and independent foundations. All private foundations are 501(c)(3) organizations.

Public Foundations

Public charities include a wide variety of charitable organizations; charities that primarily make grants are commonly referred to as public foundations. Most of these foundations are publicly supported charities, meaning they receive their funds from multiple sources, which may include private foundations, individuals, government agencies and fees they charge for charitable services they provide. And, they must continue to seek money from diverse sources in order to retain status as a public charity. Public foundations include community foundations, public charities and community college foundations. These public foundations are 501(c)(3) organizations.

Source: Council on Foundations, Foundation Basics

What are the different types of foundations represented in CMF’s membership?

CMF brings together a diverse community of philanthropists who, through individual and collective efforts, are growing the impact of Michigan philanthropy. CMF is proud to currently serve just over 300 members.

You can read about the differences among these members types on the Members page of our website. Any organization or individual fulfilling the criteria pertinent to its type, or category, is eligible to apply for CMF membership.

How many grants are given annually to nonprofits in Michigan? 

CMF leads, strengthens and supports our state’s diverse philanthropic community that collectively grants more than $1.9 billion annually to nonprofits across Michigan. The top funded areas* in our members’ Michigan-based grantmaking include: Education, Community & Economic Development, Human Services, Arts & Culture and Health.

Source: Foundation Directory Online (This data from 2018 represents the most current information available from Foundation Directory Online.)
*Data reflects grantmaking 2009-2018.

Where can I learn more about the economic benefits of Michigan’s foundations and the Michigan nonprofit sector at large?

Public Sector Consultants (PSC) conducted an analysis of the economic benefits of Michigan’s nonprofit sector in 1999 and has published updated figures four times over the last 20 years. The figures below were published in 2018-2019 (View Report), using data gathered between 2015 and 2018.

  • The number of nonprofit entities rose to a record high of more than 50,000 after nearly a decade of decline. Nearly all of this growth has been driven by charitable nonprofit 501(c)3s, which now number just over 39,000 in Michigan.
  • Nonprofits employed nearly 470,000 people in the third quarter of 2018. This number represents just over one in ten of Michigan’s total nonfarm jobs and is larger than Michigan’s leisure and hospitality industry.1
  • In 2018, Michigan’s nonprofits held more than $268 billion in assets, an increase of approximately 13 percent from $234 billion in 2013 (adjusted for inflation). The assets of charitable nonprofits specifically make up 44 percent of these assets.
  • Revenues rose more than 17 percent, from $75 billion (2013) to more than $87 billion (2018), adjusted for inflation.

1: Michigan’s leisure and hospitality industry employed 443,100 people in the third quarter of 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nonprofits in Michigan serve a wide range of purposes. The following Exhibit from the 2018-2019 report details Michigan’s nonprofit sector during the last 21 years by IRS classification. According to the IRS, in 2018, Michigan had 50,654 nonprofits. This amount represents a 19.5 percent increase since 2013, but only a 3.1 percent increase in total organizations since 2009 (the previous high). 

The vast majority of Michigan’s nonprofits are charitable and religious organizations, and these categories of nonprofits have grown in both size and share of total nonprofit organizations since this data was collected.

Michigan Nonprofits by Tax Status

Tax Status 1997 2001 2006 2009 2011 2013 2016 2018
(02) Title holding corporations for exempt org. 450 432 411 393 394 267 259 242
(03) Charitable and religious org. 19,522 23,690 30,396 33,505 32,201 30,412 35,405 38,991
(04) Social welfare org. 4,431 4,127 3,992 3,796 2,882 2,595 2,660 2,579
(05) Labor, agricultural, and horticultural org. 2,813 2,757 2,548 2,460 2,090 1,864 1,885 1,916
(06) Business leagues 2,118 2,092 2,161 2,131 1,820 1,709
(07) Social and recreational clubs 2,012 1,852 1,759 1,662 1,347 1,264 1,332 1,360
(08) Fraternal beneficiary socieites 3,508 3,333 2,504 2,333 2,361 2,151 1,977 1,861
(09) Voluntary employees' beneficiary assoc. 441 384 358 336 252 233 239 218
(10) Domestic fraternal socieites and assoc. 539 589 482 479 181 191 211 210
(12) Benevolent life insurance assoc. 23 18 23 23 22 22 24 26
(13) Cemetery companies 98 99 95 95 74 76 74 81
(14) State-chartered credit unions 320 272 243 233 199 186 160 143
(15) Mutual insurance companies or assoc. 11 9 21 16 11 7 7 6
(17) Supplemental unemployment benefit trusts 90 69 55 56 27 22 12 0
(19) War veterans' org. 1,475 1,549 1,526 1,519 1,340 1,203 1,221 1,191
Total 37,890 41,413 46,685 49,153 48,642 42,393 47,340 50,654

Source: IRS Business Master Files - collated by NCCS and updated with most recent IRS file. 
Note: Categories where organizations appeared in some, but not all of the years have been excluded from the detail, but are included in the total. Therefore, the totals will not exactly reflect the sum of the subcategories. 

Source: Economic Benefits of the Nonprofit Sector, Public Sector Consultants, 2018

How can I learn more about foundations in Michigan and across the country?

How can I make a financial contribution to my community through philanthropy?

Individuals, families and companies regularly reach out to CMF to learn how they can give back to their communities through philanthropy. CMF has compiled two reports "Options for Your Financial Giving," a resource for individuals and families, and "Choosing a Corporate Approach," a resource for companies.