The California State Parks Foundation is dedicated to sharing information about our organization with our members, donors, partners, and casual visitors alike. In other sections of this website, you will find information about the scope of our work and programs. This portion of the website is intended to provide background information about the organization’s financial health; accountability and transparency about our policies, financial profile, and strategic direction.

From time to time, this portion of the website will be updated to reflect new information. If you do not find the information you are seeking here or elsewhere on the CSPF website, we urge you to contact us at (415) 262-4400 or members@calparks.org. We will do our very best to answer your questions. Thanks for visiting calparks.org.

Our Financial Health

Our Accountability

Our Accountability to You

For 46 years, the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) has been dedicated to protecting, enhancing, and advocating for California's magnificent state parks. Through our fundraising and advocacy efforts, since our founding, we have raised more than $246 million to benefit California’s state parks. Although CSPF’s mission has evolved with the growth of the state parks system, one thing has not changed: our commitment to using every contributed dollar efficiently and effectively. CSPF’s careful stewardship of your financial support is why we have received such high ratings from charity evaluators in recent years. Our accountability and transparency ratings continue to be stellar.

At the same time, the past eight years have been challenging for California’s state parks system. Repeated threats of closures due to budget cuts and a major financial scandal in 2012 that rocked the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR)--with whom we work--are just two such examples. CSPF, together with the parks community, were successful in fighting back the closure threats. In fact, we were able to reach new audiences and increase our membership during this very challenging period. However, DPR’s financial scandal adversely affected CSPF’s ability to maintain our former fundraising momentum.

The very nature of what CSPF does – primarily fundraising and advocacy -- means we experience significant annual revenue fluctuations as we raise funds to address critical capital project and programmatic needs for parks. Our work with DPR on important capital initiatives—such as restoring Pigeon Point Light Station and the wetlands at Candlestick Point—creates large revenue fluctuations from year to year. Funds raised for these projects, as well as the projects’ capital expenditures, can increase or decrease dramatically in any given fiscal year, depending on the stage of the projects and completion of various project components, This normal fluctuation significantly affects the ratio of program expenditures to administrative and fundraising expenses, as well as the percentage spent on fundraising in any given year.

What holds steady through these fiscal peaks and valleys is our dedication to strict accountability and financial transparency, maintaining the highest non-profit financial and fundraising standards, and building park excellence. We direct as much of every dollar possible to benefit state parks. We have a dedicated fundraising team in place working diligently to reduce our fundraising expenses. In addition to remaining committed to serving our 130,000 members statewide, CSPF continues to act as the independent voice for state parks, advocating for adequate funding and sound policies for state parks, and funding restoration efforts and educational programs.

If you have any questions about any aspect of the financial information on this page, please email us at members@calparks.org or call us at (415) 262-4400.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why has CSPF’s Charity Navigator rating changed?

The Foundation uses direct mail and other fundraising tools to build its base of state park advocates, communicate with its constituents, and raise funds to assist the organization in meeting its mission. All Foundation communications include educational information about park issues so that constituents might express their viewpoints directly to legislative leaders in Sacramento. The cost of these communications, including mailings, are allocated between program and fundraising expenses, as allowed by generally accepted non-profit accounting principles and are reported as joint allocated costs in CSPF’s annual filings to the IRS and the State of California. In 2013, Charity Navigator reclassified non-profit expenses, believing that all mailings and communications materials should be fully charged to fundraising as part of the functional reporting of expenses. This reclassification played a major factor in CSPF’s Charity Navigator’s ratings change.

Since Charity Navigator began rating CSPF 11 years ago, the Foundation has averaged a three-star rating. Our current rating on Charity Navigator, based on Fiscal Year 2012-13, reflects the challenges and fluctuations that CSPF faced during this period. Fundraising expenses increased in FY13 and subsequent years: 1) to compensate for significantly reduced revenues during this difficult time; and 2) to launch a new comprehensive campaign, including three new capital projects. Though CSPF is making every effort to return to our four-star rating, we acknowledge that our current score is a reflection of the fiscal challenges faced by the organization during this difficult period.

Why are there annual fluctuations in CSPF’s fundraising and expenditure numbers?

One of the Foundation’s roles is to assist the California State Parks in raising funds for major capital projects. Examples of such projects include the restoration of the light house at Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park and wetlands restoration at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area. CSPF raises funds and manages their distribution to complete these capital projects in accordance with funders’ wishes. The pace at which funds are raised and spent vary dramatically from year to year, depending both on campaign phasing and the timing of the projects completed by the Department of Parks and Recreation. As a result, the Foundation’s revenues and expenditures can fluctuate significantly from year to year, affecting the ratio of program to administrative/fundraising expense as well as the cost of fundraising percentage.

Are CSPF staff salaries reasonable?

The compensation structure for CSPF’s staff, including senior management, is established annually in consultation with an independent compensation consultant. The consultant’s salary recommendations are based on their objective review of regional compensation surveys as well as their assessment of CSPF’s job responsibilities and supervisory duties. Executive compensation is specifically reviewed and approved by the Board’s Executive Committee. The overall compensation levels for senior management as approved by the Board of Trustees are consistently at or below the recommended levels provided by the compensation consultant.

Privacy Policy

The California State Parks Foundation (hereafter referred to as the “Foundation”) is committed to protecting your privacy. This page is dedicated to answering basic questions about what personal information we gather about users of this website and how we use that information. If you have any further questions, please email them to members@calparks.org.

View our full privacy policy here.

CSPF Strategic PlanGoals & Values Statement


  1. CSPF will take a leading role in the promotion of strong, sustainable, and effective state parks. It will:
    1. Inspire a vision for state parks that is embraced by a majority of Californians and actively supported by parks stakeholders.
    2. Facilitate the advancement of excellence in all aspects of the state park system.
  2. CSPF will promote strong public use of, support for, and commitment to a sustainable state parks system. It will:
    1. Build and expand the base of parks constituents and stakeholders.
    2. Engage a more diverse constituency.
    3. Provide support, guidance, direction, and leadership for the parks movement.
  3. CSPF will efficiently and effectively build programs, staffing, internal capacities, and systems to strengthen its position in the state parks movement. It will:
    1. Develop and implement strong programs that are responsive, sustainable and strategic.
    2. Develop and maintain diversified, sustainable financial resources for CSPF programs and operations.
    3. Strengthen internal organizational systems, structure, and staffing; and maximize synergy and collaboration between CSPF divisions.
    4. Build state-of-the-art messaging and branding capacity, expertise, and resources.
    5. Build an organization that is representative of all Californians.


In evaluating and implementing strategies and actions under the strategic plan, CSPF will emphasize the following overarching values and priorities that have been highlighted throughout the strategic planning process.

  1. State parks focus: CSPF will focus mainly on the state parks system, but will be open to working on programmatic and advocacy issues that can affect and influence all park systems.
  2. Broad statewide influence: CSPF will focus on issues with statewide impact on state parks. It will continue to initiate and support work on programs, policies, and advocacy at local levels that build and feed into broader statewide issues.
  3. Collaboration and partnership: CSPF will prioritize strategies that build collaboration at all levels to support state parks.
  4. DPR relationship: CSPF will sustain an open, positive, and proactive relationship with DPR at both the executive and program levels. CSPF will work to align its vision and goals for state parks with those of DPR while representing the voice of California’s state park constituency. It will emphasize with DPR the value and importance of expanding partnerships and collaboration to build strong public support for the state parks.
  5. Leadership: CSPF will prioritize strategies and activities that continue to build capacity as a top-of-mind resource on state parks issues.
California State Parks Foundation

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