San Francisco's history has a great future.

San Francisco, CA   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 68-0104888


The San Francisco Historical Society (SFHS) exists to uncover, preserve, and present, in engaging ways, the colorful and diverse history of our city from its earliest days to the present.

Ruling year info


President of the Board

Mr. Tom Owens

Main address

608 Commercial Street

San Francisco, CA 94111 USA

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Formerly known as

San Francisco Historical Society

Museum of the City of San Francisco



Subject area info

History museums


Historical activities

Historic preservation


Population served info

Children and youth


At-risk youth

NTEE code info

Historical Societies and Related Activities (A80)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Tax forms


Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

San Francisco History Programs

SFHS provides a broad spectrum of programs celebrating the culture and diversity of San Francisco. Our monthly presentations investigate the history, diversity and unique characters of San Francisco’s past. We also offer a series of historical walking tours for adults. We have a walking tour for fourth graders, supporting grade 4 social studies standards, focused on the Gold Rush. We offer an architecture workshop for middle school students and an essay contest, with cash prizes, for high school students. We also offer free field trips to our museum at 608 Commercial Street. In addition, we publish two history journals per year (The Argonaut) and four newsletters (Panorama). Our museum is free to the public.

Public programs offered by SFHS  create opportunities for collaboration in sharing the cultural heritage of
San Francisco with new audiences. In exploring diverse pockets of the city, the
SFHS has forged new partnerships with a wide variety of organizations.


Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Older adults
Young adults
Ethnic and racial groups

The Barbary Coast Trail is
a 3.8-mile historic walking tour highlighting many of the most important
locations in San Francisco history. The walk visits the birthplace of the Gold
Rush, the oldest Asian temple in North America, the western terminus of the
Pony Express, and the largest collection of historic ships in the United
States. The trail is marked with a series of bronze medallions set in the
sidewalks to point the way and connects 20 historic sites.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The San Francisco Historical Society hosts a myriad of guided historical walking tours. Currently, we have 7 in our roster: 1 for adults over the age of 21, Unspeakable Vice, which provides a walk through queer history in North Beach, the beloved gay neighborhood before The Castro became SF's LBGTQ+ destination, 5 for individuals of all ages, and 1 for schoolchildren, which teaches the history and impact of the gold rush on San Francisco. Our 5 tours available for all ages are: a Fisherman's Wharf tour that goes deep into the history of the wharf and the importance of fishing in early San Francisco, a tour of Chinatown that discusses the impact of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire in the area and how the Chinese community persevered, a gold rush and sunken ships walk, a walk that discusses the history of the Financial District pre-tech boom, and a deep-dive into San Francisco's rowdy past as a town without rules.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
LGBTQ people

Where we work

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently


Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 10.95 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 10.1 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2021 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 8% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of SAN FRANCISCO HISTORICAL SOCIETY’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $234,618 -$22,294 -$224,803 -$69,246 -$100,279
As % of expenses 91.3% -7.4% -41.8% -12.5% -17.1%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $234,618 -$22,294 -$225,200 -$69,660 -$100,693
As % of expenses 91.3% -7.4% -41.8% -12.6% -17.2%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $480,957 $277,037 $303,537 $485,148 $484,504
Total revenue, % change over prior year 72.3% -42.4% 9.6% 59.8% -0.1%
Program services revenue 33.0% 43.5% 41.1% 18.5% 13.3%
Membership dues 12.6% 16.1% 16.9% 7.8% 5.2%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 54.1% 35.2% 39.3% 72.2% 81.3%
Other revenue 0.3% 5.2% 2.7% 1.5% 0.2%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $257,078 $299,331 $537,821 $554,394 $584,783
Total expenses, % change over prior year -17.9% 16.4% 79.7% 3.1% 5.5%
Personnel 0.0% 37.8% 21.6% 16.5% 0.3%
Professional fees 12.9% 0.0% 1.8% 0.0% 0.0%
Occupancy 42.2% 29.1% 16.5% 10.8% 6.1%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 44.8% 33.1% 60.1% 72.7% 93.6%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Total expenses (after depreciation) $257,078 $299,331 $538,218 $554,808 $585,197
One month of savings $21,423 $24,944 $44,818 $46,200 $48,732
Debt principal payment $0 $7,203 $0 $0 $27,430
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $16,140 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $278,501 $331,478 $599,176 $601,008 $661,359

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Months of cash 27.4 23.6 6.5 6.4 3.5
Months of cash and investments 27.4 23.6 6.5 6.4 3.5
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 29.5 24.4 8.2 6.5 4.1
Balance sheet composition info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Cash $586,815 $589,773 $289,573 $294,133 $172,762
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $25,974 $0 $12,287 $4,085 $4,085
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $23,524 $0 $16,140 $16,140 $16,140
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 100.0% 0.0% 2.5% 5.0% 7.6%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 5.1% 4.1% 2.8% 14.9% 13.4%
Unrestricted net assets $631,301 $609,007 $383,807 $314,147 $213,454
Temporarily restricted net assets $10,868 $10,868 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $10,868 $10,868 $1,387 $1,387 $1,387
Total net assets $642,169 $619,875 $385,194 $315,534 $214,841

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Material data errors Yes No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

President of the Board

Mr. Tom Owens

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 01/27/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Thomas Owens

Richard S. E. Johns

Edith Piness

Kevin Pursglove

Joe Barkett

Jack Lapidos

Christopher Aguilar

John Briscoe

Richard Corriea

David Fishman

Lisa Fung

Bruce Lubarsky

Diane L. Gibson

Thomas Gille

David Parry

Miguel Pendás

Donald F. Reid

David Kvaratskheila

Cynthia So Schroeder

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/27/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/26/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.


Fiscal year ending
There are no fundraisers recorded for this organization.