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Redwood National & State Parks
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Blazing a New Trail in National Park Philanthropy

By Dieter Fenkart-Froeschl

One of the Foundation’s goals is to elevate national parks as a philanthropic priority. Our rapidly growing organization is accomplishing just that. In fact, we hit a milestone this past year. It's something we can all be proud of. We raised $183 million in total revenue and support which marks the highest revenue year in the Foundation’s history. Moreover, our funding helped deliver $109 million in impact to the National Park System this past fiscal year – the second highest impact number in our history.

Dieter Fenkart-Froeschl
Dieter Fenkart-Froeschl, Chief Operating Officer at NPF

You may ask how these numbers are helping us elevate national parks as a philanthropic priority. Our story is 50+ years in the making, beginning back in 1967 when the Foundation was chartered by Congress to provide philanthropic support to the National Park System. Back then, we were much smaller and less connected to our closest partner, the National Park Service. In fact, in 2013, right before launching the Centennial Campaign, the Foundation raised $23 million in annual revenue and delivered $16 million in impact. Fast forward a decade and we have raised eight times as much in revenue and support and deployed seven times as much in grants and impact.

Those numbers are impressive and the upward trendline is remarkable, but it is no accident. It reflects the compounding value of strategic planning, close alignment with National Park Service leadership, tremendous engagement with the donor community, and the exceptional commitment of the National Park Foundation board and staff to our mission.

Kenilworth Park Aquatic Gardens
Lotus and Water Lily Festival at Kenilworth Park Aquatic Gardens (NPS Photo / Rachel Hendrix)

As we look to the future, we all play a role in NPF’s mission. When people ask me what I do at the Foundation, I used to tell them that I am the Chief Operating Officer who ensures “the trains run on time.” However, I began to realize that our purpose is bigger than just our job. It’s our collective work that makes us stronger together. It’s the impact we generate that ensures our work matters. It’s the time, energy, and enthusiasm we commit to on a daily basis that promises we find a way. And it’s the respect we give to others that reinforces that everyone belongs.

So, rather than tell people what my job is, I reflect on our greater purpose and the work I do to help make national parks a philanthropic priority and to raise financial support for the National Park Service’s top priorities. And hopefully, they too will feel inspired to join our collective movement of national park champions.