Evolution of Philanthropy in the National Park System|
Philanthropy is more than a source of land and money for parks. It is a means of building and strengthening bonds between the parks and people. While all taxpayers contribute indirectly toward park appropriations, those who make additional voluntary contributions and personally invest are demonstrating a special interest and investment in the parks and park values. This may be the most meaningful expression of support. Once people invest, they have a stronger sense of engagement.
Superintendents are also seeking to build a stronger sense of park "ownership" and stewardship as Brian O'Neill, former Superintendent of Golden Gate NRA frequently observed, "Every time we do it ourselves, we miss out on an opportunity for community engagement."
In the future, the Parks may benefit even more from people's heightened sense of stewardship than from the philanthropic dollars. We need to offer opportunities for engagement and stewardship as well as philanthropy.