Council on Foundations – Stewardship Principles for Family Foundations

More than 600 family foundation trustees and staff attended the 2005 Family Foundation Conference, ‘Principled Giving for Family Foundations’, held 23-25 January in Miami Beach, Florida, where the Council on Foundations officially launched its Stewardship Principles for Family Foundations.

The stewardship principles will serve as guidance for family foundations’ board governance, management and grantmaking decisions.[1] They are designed to meet the needs of all family foundations, large or small, staffed or board-managed. They were drafted under the guidance of an Advisory Group composed of family and corporate foundation executives and trustees and other experts including academics, attorneys and an ethicist. Hundreds of family foundations nationwide also contributed to their development.

The Stewardship Principles for Family Foundations are:
· The governing board establishes the mission, guides operations, oversees the effectiveness and ensures the ethical conduct of the foundation.
· Authority is vested in the governing board as a whole and each board member is equipped to advance the foundation’s mission.
· The foundation considers multiple strategies to further its mission.
· The governing board exercises active fiscal oversight.
· The foundation recognizes and acts upon its obligations to multiple stakeholders: the donor and the donor’s family, grantees and grantseekers, the public and governmental bodies.
· The foundation respects its non-profit partners’ missions and expertise and strives for relationships based on candour, understanding and fairness.
· The foundation welcomes public interest and communicates openly.
· The governing board respects donor intent and later generations’ interests while also considering the demands of a changing world.
· The foundation plans for family leadership continuity.

‘These foundations are defining and championing the highest standards and practices,’ said Dorothy S Ridings, Council president and CEO. ‘Like most grantmakers, they are committed to reaffirming the honesty and integrity that are a hallmark of the non-profit sector.’

1 Family foundations are private foundations that are either governed or strongly influenced by the original donor or members of the donor’s family.

The stewardship principles are explained in further detail with concrete practice options in a new Council publication, Principled Giving: An Intro to Family Foundation Stewardship. To order, visit

Council on Foundations
Tel +1 202 466 6512
Fax +1 202 785 3926

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