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 We will do our very best to answer your questions. Thanks for visiting

Our Accountability

Since 1969, 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 $256 million to benefit California’s state parks and park users. 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 strong ratings from charity evaluators in recent years. Our accountability and transparency ratings continue to be stellar.

At the same time, the past decade has been particularly challenging for California’s state parks system. Repeated threats of closures due to budget cuts and a financial scandal in 2012 that rocked the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) –  the public agency with which we partner – are just two such examples. CSPF, together with the parks community, was 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.

Fluctuations in Revenues and Expenses: The nature of CSPF’s work means we experience significant annual revenue fluctuations as we raise funds to address current needs for parks. 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 contributed dollar as possible to advance our mission of protecting, improving, and advocating for California’s state parks. In addition to remaining committed to serving our members statewide, CSPF continues to act as the independent voice for state parks, advocating for adequate funding and sound policies for state parks while also funding park improvements, volunteer efforts, and educational programs.

Joint Costs: California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) conducts a comprehensive direct mail program to educate its members and the general public about issues affecting California’s state parks, to encourage direct action to influence related policies and legislation, and to generate awareness of and support for CSPF’s activities and programs that benefit state parks and park users. The mailings include fundraising solicitations for contributions to advance CSPF’s mission to protect, improve, and advocate for California’s 280 state parks. In accordance with the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) guidelines, CSPF allocates the joint costs of its direct mail activities between its program and fundraising expenses on its audited financial statements as well as public filings such as the IRS form 990. For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015, CSPF reported a total of $3,178,682 in joint direct mail costs. Of those costs, $1,831,672 was allocated as program expenses and $1,347,010 was allocated as fundraising expenses. The joint costs for fiscal year 2015-16 will be reported when the final audited financial statements are complete (in early 2017).

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

Why has CSPF’s Charity Navigator rating changed?

As described under Revenues and Expenses, in accordance with the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) guidelines, CSPF allocates the joint costs of its direct mail activities between its program and fundraising expenses on its audited financial statements as well as public filings such as the IRS form 990.

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 rating change.

Since Charity Navigator began rating CSPF in 2002, we have averaged a three-star rating. Our current rating on Charity Navigator, based on Fiscal Year 2014-15, reflects the challenges and fluctuations that CSPF faced during this period. 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 CSPF's roles over the years has been to assist the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) in raising funds for major capital projects and other initiatives. Examples of such projects include the wetlands restoration at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area and the development of the Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) virtual education program. CSPF raises funds and manages their distribution to complete these projects in accordance with funders' wishes. The pace at which funds are raised and spent can vary widely from year to year depending on the timing of project phasing and completion by the Department of Parks and Recreation. As a result, CSPF'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.

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

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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