Press Release May 11, 2016

National Park Service Proposes Updated Policy for Philanthropy and Partnerships

Statement by National Parks Conservation Association

WASHINGTON – Below is a statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association, following the release of a new proposal by the National Park Service (NPS) to expand opportunities for philanthropic giving and ease restrictions on donor recognition of national parks.

The proposed update to “Director’s Order # 21: Philanthropic Partnerships” would allow the NPS Director and Deputy Director to actively fundraise and make fundraising a central responsibility for park superintendents. It would also allow for less restrictive corporate, individual and partner “donor recognition” displays on park infrastructure, equipment and landscape features.

Director’s Order 21 also updates related policies, including standing agreements with nonprofit groups that raise money for projects and programs inside national parks. These proposed updates are a response to park partners’ concerns about delays in fundraising campaigns caused by numerous complex requirements for NPS staff to review materials and vet donors.

“The National Park Service has always depended on donations to supplement funding from Congress, but we don’t want this order to create a new landscape that allows Congress to abdicate its duty to provide parks with the funding they need for rangers, repairs and other responsibilities. Because of congressional underfunding, the superintendents who manage our parks are already struggling to meet critical demands to protect parks and serve visitors. This revised policy needs to make sure the system for promoting and accepting donations does not become a requirement for park staff that competes with the fundamental needs of our parks. We also do not want to see the role of NPS staff as fundraisers compete with nonprofit partners and create confusion among donors.

“We support the order’s intent to allow for additional opportunities to recognize donors, but that should not commercialize the park experience. National parks are places where the public’s eyes can take a rest from advertising and enjoy the scenery and history. They need to stay that way.

“Many park partners who fundraise for projects and programs in national parks have been asking for more flexible policies that can maintain the momentum and enthusiasm of donors who want to see projects move ahead within reasonable timelines. We think there is room to create this flexibility, and we encourage the National Park Service to do so.”


About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit

Read more from NPCA

  • Blog Post

    FAQs: Protecting America’s Legacy Campaign

    May 2024 | By Lam Ho, Linda Coutant

    NPCA recently launched a $300 million Protecting America’s Legacy campaign. Here’s everything you need to know to be informed and engaged with this fundraising initiative.

  • Blog Post

    The ‘Quiet Crisis’ Facing National Parks

    Apr 2024 | By Kyle Groetzinger, Linda Coutant

    NPCA is calling on Congress to support recently introduced legislation that would provide $250 million for national parks’ long-underfunded cultural resources and history programs. 

  • Blog Post

    Protect Them All: 10 Advocacy Badges You Can Earn This National Park Week

    Apr 2024 | By Vanessa Pius

    Camp NPCA is officially in session! As NPCA celebrates National Park Week, we’re evoking all the nostalgia and fun of summer camp with a national park protection twist.