Philanthropy at SFDS

We’re extraordinarily fortunate to have a generous community in which parents, faculty, trustees, alumni, grandparents, and friends give gifts of time, talent, and financial resources every year. Together, we share a commitment to our school mission and to advancing the success of our students and teachers. Our school culture celebrates giving and volunteerism and seeks to engage every member of our community in finding meaningful ways to give back.  

Gifts to SFDS are not only greatly appreciated, but essential to sustaining the quality and depth of programs that our students encounter every day.  Like all independent schools, tuition alone does not cover the full cost of providing an exceptional education for every SFDS student.  We rely both on tuition income and on philanthropic gifts to balance our budget each year.  Volunteerism is equally important in cultivating our vibrant community of learners--your contributions of time and talent enable our school to thrive. Your generosity supports the people and programs that make our school so special--talented teachers, innovative curriculum, diverse community and inspiring learning environments.

We invite you to explore the giving opportunities below and contribute in a way that is meaningful for your family.  Thank you! We look forward to partnering together.  

Giving Opportunities

Annual Fund

Our Annual Fund is the collective gift of our entire community and we ask that every SFDS make a gift that is meaningful to them.  The Annual Fund supports critical investments that inspire our passionate learners and provides an immediate impact on our program.  This year, we expect the Annual Fund to provide 10% of the school’s operating income.

  • Unrestricted gifts to the Annual Fund allow SFDS to meet the most pressing current needs of our program, students, and teachers.  Our community's generosity empowers us to attract and retain the best faculty; develop the artist and athlete in every student; incorporate innovative technologies in the classroom and pursue exciting learning opportunities with agility.
  • SFDS asks every member of our community to make a pledge or gift to the Annual Fund at the beginning of each school year. Pledges can be remitted through June 30, 2017.

2016-17 Annual Fund Goals

  • Achieve 100% Participation in 100 Days (by December 16, 2016)
  • Raise $1.27 M in unrestricted support

Annual Fund Giving Levels

  • Presidio Spires $50,000+
  • Silver Dolphins $25,000+
  • Treasure Islanders $15,000+
  • Barbary Coasters $10,000+
  • Yerba Buenas $7,500+
  • Embarcaderos $5,000+
  • Buena Vistas $3,000+
  • Twin Peaks $1,000+
  • Masonic Partners up to $999

Alumni leadership gifts of $250+ are included in the Golden Gate Society ($100 for graduates of the last 10 years.).  Other alumni gifts are included in the Alumni Giving Circle.

Campaigns and Endowments

The school we love was built by generations of people who have given their time, talents, energy, and financial resources to make our school what it is today.

At critical points in the growth and development of the School, the Head of School and Board of Trustees will initiate a fundraising campaign necessary to strengthen our academic program and improve facilities. These projects fall outside of the operating budget and are investments in the future of SFDS. A family can expect several campaigns over the course of their tenure with the School.


At San Francisco Day School, we strive to provide a dynamic learning environment that empowers each individual with tools that are vital to realizing potential. Generous gifts from parents of alumni, grandparents, faculty and staff built our $25 million endowment and continue to support SFDS every year. In 2016-17, the endowment draw covered 8% of the School's annual operations and helped to fund our educational programs, faculty professional development, and Discounted Tuition program.

We are continually seeking donors who are interested in supporting endowment growth.  If you are interested in learning more, please contact Erin Wright, Director of Advancement.

Click here to learn more about Potential: Endowing Excellence at SFDS, an endowment campaign that concluded in 2015 and added $15 million to the SFDS Endowment.

Click here for Endowment FAQs.



For over thirty years, CultureFest has been San Francisco Day School's largest fundraiser for our Discounted Tuition program, which serves nearly one in four students in our community.  Discounted Tuition grants cover between 5% to 95% of a student's annual tuition and the average grant in 2015-16 was $20,400.  CultureFest offers families to celebrate our school's diversity and mission while raising funds to ensure that the San Francisco Day School experience remains accessible to families in our Bay Area community. 

CultureFest is a celebratory evening with dinner, cocktails, live auction, raise-the-paddle, and entertainment. Leading up to the event, the school also hosts an online auction that includes sign-ups for parent/guardian and student "count-me-in" parties throughout the year. Ticket prices are intentionally kept low to encourage full community participation, and we encourage families to consider donating in any capacity that they feel is meaningful. At the 2016 CultureFest event, families and friends generously contributed over $500,000 in support of our Discounted Tuition program and a new "Innovate and Create" space.

Community Events

In addition to CultureFest, the Parents Association and Advancement Office work together to host many fun-filled and inclusive events throughout the year. These school traditions and events help strengthen our tight-knit community, which is core to the SFDS philosophy and curriculum.

Family Photo Night

For over 15 years, Family Photo Night has been a treasured celebration of our diverse families. All families are invited to have their family portrait taken (pets welcome!) while getting to know other SFDS families.  Afterward, the school hosts an exhibit of the portraits around the school for all of our community members and guests to enjoy.

Library Fall Festival

Each fall, the entire SFDS campus is abuzz with earnest learners and book lovers of all ages at the annual Fall Festival. The SFDS library has been the heart and soul of San Francisco Day School since 1981 when a group of committed parents graciously volunteered their time to read to students and care for the library by stocking books and managing shelves. Thanks to the ongoing generosity of our community, the school's collection has grown to a collection of over 20,000 titles.

Grandparents and Special Friends Day

One day each year, the adults outnumber the children at SFDS!  For this special occasion, we invite grandparents and special friends of our students to experience “a day in the life” of an SFDS student.  Digital albums are shared after the event, and we often hear from alums that they still cherish their collection of Grandparents Day photos. 


Volunteerism is an essential aspect of our flourishing community.  As our children watch parents, grandparents and alumni give generously of their time and talent, they learn the importance of giving back and getting involved. Volunteering at the school provides many benefits including the opportunity to explore your child’s school life, get to know other parents and your child’s classmates. It also provides an insight into the school and an opportunity to know staff, teachers and volunteer leaders, and see how our mission is brought to life at SFDS.

There are many ways to get involved according to your interests and schedule. Here are a few:

  • Chaperone field trips

  • Assist in the Library

  • Serve as a Room Parent

  • Participate in the Parent Group for Diversity

  • Serve as a Class Captain for the Annual Fund

  • Volunteer at Family Photo Night

  • Volunteer as an Admissions tour guide

  • Represent the school at an open house or school fair

  • Help plan CultureFest

If you would like to volunteer and learn more, please email Ginny Conner, SFDS Parents Association President. You can also click here for more information.

Planned Giving

Planned giving is an effective way to support SFDS while securing the financial needs of families or loved ones. Planned gifts can also provide significant tax benefits for your family. Planned giving donors are valued members of the SFDS Dolphin Society. For more information, please contact Erin Wright, Director of Advancement.