Building Philanthropy for a Better Florida

Types of Grantmakers

Publication date: 
March, 2015

Thanks to our colleagues at the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy for this resource. 

Private independent and family foundations make grants based on charitable endowments. They generally do not actively raise funds or seek public financial support, since they have endowments from which to make grants.

Private family foundations are generally small, unstaffed organizations which strongly reflect the personal values and group dynamics of the donor's family and heirs. Identifying and articulating interests, finding time to administer an effective grantmaking program with volunteer trustees, supporting leadership in younger family members, and dealing with personal relationships in a business setting, are some of the issues which surface for these groups that are absent in other foundation settings.
Private independent foundations are distinct from private family foundations in that independent foundations are not controlled by the benefactor or the benefactor's family. Some of the largest private foundations in the United States are independent foundations, although they may have begun as family foundations.
Private operating foundations are private foundations that use the bulk of their resources to provide charitable services or run charitable programs of their own. They make few, if any, grants to outside organizations and, like private independent and private family foundations, they generally do not raise funds from the public.
Corporate (company-sponsored) foundations are private foundations that receive grantmaking funds primarily from the contributions of a profit-making business. Company-sponsored foundations often are closely connected to the donor company, but are separate, legal organizations, sometimes with their own endowment.  They are subject to the same rules and regulations as other private foundations.
Corporate giving programs are grantmaking programs established and administered within a profit-making business. Grants go directly to charitable organizations from the corporation. Corporate giving programs do not have a separate endowment. Their grants are planned as part of the company's annual budgeting process and usually are funded with pre-tax income.
Children's Services Councils (CSC) are unique to Florida and dedicated solely to investing in the well-being of children and families. CSCs are voter-approved taxing authorities to ensure that a dedicated funding source is available to meet the specific needs of children and families living in their counties. People in the county pay a small portion of their property taxes toward their CSC. 
Public foundations or grantmaking public charities, as defined by The Foundation Center, are nongovernmental, nonprofit organizations that:
  • receives funding from numerous sources and must continue to seek money from diverse sources in order to retain its public charity status;
  • is managed by its own trustees and directors;
  • operates grants programs benefiting unrelated organizations or individuals as one of its primary purposes'
  • makes grants, primarily to nonprofit organizations; and
  • is required to file a 990 form with the IRS.
There are several types of public foundations:
Community foundations seek support from the public and administer funds from a variety of donors in a defined geographic area (usually a city or town, but sometimes part or all of a state). They are governed by community representatives and, like private foundations, provide grants. Their grants primarily support the needs of a defined geographic community or region. Due to their broad public support, they are not considered to be private foundations. 
Many women's funds are public foundations that create permanent endowments dedicated to programs that serve women and girls. They empower women to become philanthropists and participate in shaping the future of their communities. 
Donor Advised Funds are owned and controlled by a sponsoring organization and must be separately identified with reference to the contribution of a donor or donors. The donor or a person appointed by the donor is able to advise on the fund's investments or distributions, while the host institution takes care of the financial paperwork, including cutting the check and sending it to the charity or charities of the donor's choice.
Grantmaking Public Charities raise money each year to support groups of nonprofit organizations. The United Way is an example of a grantmaking public charity.