What happens to my donation?

In a “normal” year, once a year (around January 31st), we take the money we have raised from the prior 12 months, and some of the interest from our endowment, to create a pot of money to distribute grants to local nonprofits. 2020 was NOT a normal year. This past year and a half, we not only raised money for our annual grants, but also distributed 10 rounds of grants (a total of $1.2 million) to local nonprofits who could bring immediate financial relief and help to those made most vulnerable by the pandemic.

For more information:

How do you decide who receives PACF grants?

This is a very important process for the Palo Alto Community Fund. For the annual grants, local nonprofits apply through a streamlined application process. PACF Board members collectively spend more than 300 hours during a six week process reviewing each application received for community impact, financial soundness, and clarity of purpose. Teams of board members meet to evaluate both the organization and the grant proposal, including a virtual conversation with leaders from each grant applicant.  PACF has shifted to providing general operating support in keeping with “trust-based” grant making, giving PACF grantees the flexibility and freedom to use the funds as they see fit.

Can I still donate?

We continue to raise money for the following urgent and escalating needs:

  • COVID-19 related hardship relief including direct financial support for basic needs, childcare, food insecurity, health and mental support, rent relief, other housing support  and homelessness.
  • Programs and local nonprofit organizations that support our most vulnerable communities, help families, improve education opportunities and enhance community life for everyone in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

We welcome gifts year round to fuel our effective, efficient and impactful annual grantmaking process. This year, in addition, we are working closely with nonprofits in our community to respond to hardship caused by the pandemic, and – thanks to the generosity of our donors – we have made 10 additional grants (a total of $1.2 million) so far to local nonprofits helping those most severely affected.

How long has the Palo Alto Community Fund existed?

The Fund was started in 1979, over 40 years ago. We raise money to benefit people in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. For more information:

Who runs the Palo Alto Community Fund?

We have one staff member, our executive director, Lisa Van Dusen. In addition, PACF’s 24 volunteer board members are highly engaged in our fundraising, grant making and operations. We also have an active Advisory Board. You – our donors – are truly our engine.  Some of you have given for 40 years, some of you discovered us more recently. All of you want to contribute to our community and support the nonprofits who do the hard work on the ground of helping families, the vulnerable, improving education opportunities, and enhancing community life for us all.

How much money did you raise in Fiscal Year 2019/2020?

THANK YOU to all our donors. Over the past year the Palo Alto Community Fund (PACF) granted over $2 million, distributed to 63 nonprofit organizations in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.


For other questions please contact our Executive Director, Lisa Van Dusen.

Posted Jan. 28. 2021