A tax-exempt entity legally defined under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, distinguished from “public charity” entities covered in that same section. Private foundations usually get their funds from a single primary source such as an individual, family, or corporation. The category is further divided by the IRS into “operating” and “non-operating” foundations, with the majority of foundations being the latter (including corporate, family, health conversion, and independent foundations) and pursuing their charitable missions primarily through grantmaking or other philanthropic investments. Many private foundations keep funds in an endowment, though some are “pass through” entities, and they can be established in perpetuity, or with a limited lifespan.
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