Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Public/Private Partnerships & Fundraising

In this article from today’s Bee the pitfalls and strengths of public private partnerships around parks, and fundraising, are discussed, and what emerges is how effective they can be and how troublesome if the roles are confused.

Fundraising is, and should remain, within the purview of the private nonprofit corporate partner, such as the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy or the Central Park Conservancy, both models for the type of governance and fundraising structure we advocate for the American River Parkway to help resolve its long-term funding and management problems.

Here is an excerpt.

Do's and don'ts for U.S. park donors
New rules for private fundraising don't venture far from old.
By Michael Doyle -- Bee Washington Bureau Published 12:01 am PDT Wednesday, May 31, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Yosemite National Park officials now know the do's and don'ts of luring private donors.

The don'ts include taking money from liquor and tobacco companies and rewarding donors with big billboards.

The do's spelled out in new agency rules include dispatching Yosemite Superintendent Mike Tollefsen to woo potential contributors, so long as he doesn't explicitly put his hand out.

"Mike doesn't stand up and say, 'Please give money,' " Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said Tuesday, "but we feel it's appropriate to tell donors what the money is going for."

Yosemite benefits from private contributions more than almost any other park. Most dramatically, with big contributions from the likes of Chevron, the Yosemite Fund raised more than $11 million for restoration of the park's Lower Yosemite Falls area.

One of the few organizations of its kind larger than the Yosemite Fund is the San Francisco-based Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, which has contributed more than $80 million since 1981.

The much more modest Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park Foundation has contributed about $500,000 to the two parks in the past two decades.

Depending on how contributions are counted, between $75 million and $100 million in private funds and donations annually supplement the National Park Service's budget. Following intense scrutiny by Yosemite aficionados and members of the public, the Bush administration earlier this month issued new rules governing this private fundraising.

Cue the nightmare visions of tacky ads dotting park landscapes and Ronald McDonald embracing the Statue of Liberty. But after fielding some 1,000 public comments over the past year, park service officials retained most of the conservative rules protecting parks from overt commercial exploitation.

"We pulled back from a number of the more controversial proposals," John Piltzecker, director of the National Park Service's Partnership Program, said Tuesday. "The time was not right for a number of those provisions."

For instance, the park service originally proposed that individual and corporate donors be recognized through prominent plaques, benches and embedded stones. Specific rooms within park buildings could also have been named for donors; for instance, the Chevron Room inside a Yosemite facility. The final rules dropped those ideas.

It is still possible, though, for donors to receive recognition.

Currently, a Yosemite Fund "Honor Wall" located behind the Yosemite Valley Visitors Center honors a variety of major donors.

"I think it's tastefully done," Gediman said.