Frequently asked questions
Does my donation only support nonprofit organizations in Palo Alto?

Your donation goes to support PACF grant awards given to nonprofit organizations that serve the communities of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and Menlo Park in four focus areas of impact:

  • Supporting Families
  • Enhancing Community Life
  • Uplifting the Vulnerable
  • Supporting Education
How does a nonprofit organization apply for a grant from PACF?

PACF awards our traditional annual grants once a year.  In early December, a grant application is posted on the PACF website (in the “Grantees” section) with the due dates for the upcoming grants cycle.  A nonprofit organization seeking funds needs to complete the application and submit it by the due date according to the instructions on the grant application.  We also have other grants including the Dave Mitchell Impact Grants, Emergency Grants, and the Cammie Vail Executive Director Grants, for which we do not accept applications.

How does PACF select its grantees?

Grantee selection is guided by the PACF Grants Committee including members of the Board of Directors, a few Advisory Board members and the Executive Director.  Each application received is reviewed for community impact, financial soundness, and clarity of purpose. Grants Committee representatives interview each applicant.  Group meetings are held to analyze and evaluate both the organization and the grant proposal. In the Spring, the slate of grantees is reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors.

How much does PACF give back to the community annually?

Throughout the FY 2021, PACF invested over $1.75 mil in grant awards to nonprofit organizations serving Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and Menlo Park.

Is there a minimum donation you will accept?

No.  We are grateful for a donation at any level. Donations are accepted in many ways including online credit card and bank transfers.

Does PACF accept stock gifts?

Yes!  To find out more about making a stock donation, contact our Executive Director, Lisa Van Dusen, at 650-690-0370.

Does PACF accept planned gifts?

There are many ways to remember the Palo Alto Community Fund in your estate plan.

  • Leave a bequest in your will.
  • Name the Fund as a beneficiary of assets remaining in your living trust.
  • Make the Fund a beneficiary of an entire retirement plan or a percentage of assets in the plan.
  • Designate the Fund as a beneficiary of any individual or group term life insurance policy.

By remembering the Palo Alto Community Fund in your estate plan, you are perpetuating our mission to improve the quality of life in our community by supporting the work of new and existing nonprofits serving Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.


Your personal attorney or financial planner can assist you to ensure that all of the documentation is completed correctly and that your intentions are fulfilled. To learn about more ways to leave a legacy, contact our Executive Director, Lisa Van Dusen at 650-690-0370.

What is an endowment?

An endowment fund is a permanent, self-sustaining source of funding.  Endowment assets are invested.  Each year a percentage of the fund is paid out to support PACF’s annual grant making cycle, and any earnings in excess of this distribution are used to build the fund’s market value.  In this way, an endowment fund can grow and provide support for its designated purpose in perpetuity.

Do donations just support the PACF Endowment Fund?

You have options and can designate your donation to:

  1. Go into the Annual Fund, where your gift will be applied to the next grant making cycle.
  2. Go into the Endowment Fund, which will provide for current and future growth.
  3. Go into the area that PACF deems has the greatest need.
  4. Go into a combination of the Endowment Fund and Annual Fund.