White Papers

Best Practices for Protecting the Privacy of Your Family Foundation

Family foundations are required to publicly disclose sensitive information – but you can take steps to protect your privacy.

Family foundations comprise nearly half of the 76,000 private foundations in the US. Every year, these family foundations are required to disclose information in mandatory filings that become public. Unfortunately, the information contained in these filings can expose families to unwanted solicitations from brokers, charities, and even individuals with criminal intentions.

For example, we have seen situations in which families receive substantial requests from the private schools and universities their children attend, with the requested donation pegged to match donations their foundation has made in the past to similar institutions. These requests lead to awkward conversations and, ultimately, may be very difficult to decline. Similarly, families can be approached by savvy investment managers and brokers who use what they have learned about how the foundation invests to pitch their own services.

And there are potentially broader security concerns. Anyone with an internet connection can use a family foundation’s required disclosures to gauge the magnitude of a family’s wealth, guess the location of a family home, and learn names, and sometimes addresses, of family members.

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