National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
Partnership header Roundtable discussion in a conference room setting
Evolution of Philanthropy in the National Park System

As we update our fundraising policies and look to the National Park Service's Centennial in 2016, we are challenged with how best to position our National Parks to attract a larger share of the American peoples' philanthropic support and personal commitments to park stewardship.

To succeed, we must appreciate and support the role philanthropy plays for our National Parks. Here are ten key points on the evolution of philanthropy in the National Park System.

  1. There has been a continuum of philanthropy from the establishment of the first national parks to the present day. Most parks have benefited from philanthropy. These gifts continue to play an important role in meeting park needs. more »

  2. People contribute to National Parks in many ways for many reasons. more »

  3. Partnerships and philanthropy have been pursued on a more systematic basis since the early 80's. Each Administration has encouraged partnering and outside funding while attempting to contain government spending. more »

  4. The emergence of large capital fundraising campaigns, mostly to finance the construction, renovation or replacement of visitor centers in the early to mid 80's raised issues with the NPS, the Department and the Congress. more »

  5. The growing reliance of parks on the National Park Foundation, Friends Groups and Cooperating Associations and other nonprofits to undertake capital campaigns, project management, and other park fundraising and volunteer management. more »

  6. The growth in developing earned income sources to underwrite support nonprofit operations and new ventures to further park agendas. more »

  7. There is a lingering concern that decision makers may count on philanthropy to replace rather than supplement Congressional appropriations. more »

  8. A growing challenge is how to most effectively position park philanthropy alongside other American institutions in offering giving opportunities and choices to donors? more »

  9. Sensitivity over corporate sponsorships, corporate donations of marketing and advertising services, donations of equipment or materials for product placement. more »

  10. Philanthropy and volunteerism are a means to cultivate community engagement for park stewardship. more »

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