Family Foundations

A family foundation is a fund or endowment whose funds are derived from members of a single family.

It is designated as a private foundation by the Internal Revenue Service under law, with a primary function of grantmaking. Family members usually serve as trustees on a voluntary basis; in many cases, second- and third-generation descendants of the original donors manage the foundation. Are you interested in creating a family foundation? Visit our Charitable Giving Options page for information and resources that can access and review. Do you already have a family foundation? Then consider joining the Council of Michigan Foundations!

Why should my family foundation join CMF?

The Council of Michigan Foundations' membership contains almost 150 family foundations, representing over 40% of our active membership. Connect within a community of family philanthropists who “do what you do” and understand the challenges, opportunities, and issues you face. Access the tools, training, expertise and information you need. Connect with world-class thought leaders, take advantage of a vast knowledge bank, commission custom research or attend a program on the most relevant topics and trends that impact your work.

New Report: Trends in Private Foundation Investment, 2008 – 2013

Foundation Source recently released a new report looking exclusively at the investment behavior of private foundations with less than $50 million in assets. Foundations of this size constitute 98% of the 84,000 private foundations in the United States. This report details how these foundations fared from 2008, the low point of the Great Recession, through the end of 2013.

Key Facts on Family Foundations

The Foundation Center has identified 38,671 grantmaking independent foundations with measurable donor or donor-family involvement. These “family foundations” represent more than half of all independent foundations and account for similar shares of independent foundations’ giving and assets, while they make up a much larger share of new gifts and bequests from donors. Summary statistics are presented for total giving, total assets and grants received, in addition to giving patterns. Download the report here.

QuickLinks for CMF family foundation members

  • Bridging the Generations: An Intergenerational Toolkit for Family Foundations—created with interactive tools to help family foundations build bridges of communication and common agenda with multiple generations of family members involved in the foundation's work.
  • National Center for Family Philanthropy—Access to NCFP Webinars and the NCFP Knowledge Center are a available free to CMF Members, Contact CMF to sign up for access to the NCFP Knowledge Center
  • CMF WebServices—can help you build your presence on the internet efficiently and cost-effectively!
  • Family Foundation Tools— ready to download and easily customizable that include policies, worksheets, sample grant agreements, proposal response letters and much more.
  • CMF Memeber Directory—available to help you search and find other CMF members.  Make sure you login to get the more informaiton and help you conenct with other members.
  • Technical assistance from CMF's cadre of staff and experts to assist families on topics like developing a plan for succession or facilitating a board retreat. Call 616.842.7080 or click the contact page to connect with a specific staff member. 


Easy to access, download and customize, the family foundation toolbox includes sample policies such as conflict of interest, an accountability self-assessment tool, proposal response letters, grant tracking forms, site visit worksheets and much more.


For your convenience, this page aggregates some of the latest reports, best practices, how-tos, guides, policies, for family foundations. Many more can be found by going to the Search page and use the extensive list of filters. Don't see what you need? Or do you have a resources to share with your colleagues? Use our Share Content form and send us something you would like to see added to the website! 


Get to know our CMF member family foundations better! Learn about featured foundations' history, priorities and extraordinary work in Michigan communities and beyond.