While there is no legal nor widely accepted definition of what qualifies as a “family” foundation, the term is usually applied to a class of independent, non-operating private foundations in which: the mission and giving continues to be strongly influenced by the intent of the founding donor(s), the founding donor(s) or familial descendants play some governance role in the foundation (e.g., as trustees or even staff), and the assets come from a founding family or individual. However, some public foundations, operating foundations, and other types have these qualities as well so can be considered family foundations. Many independent foundations began as family foundations but transitioned away from family control in some way. Family foundations are often multi-generational and vary from very small to very large. In some cases, a foundation is considered a family foundation primarily because of self-identification as such.
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