History

Since 1976, Tides has worked with individuals and institutions committed to positive social change.

In 1976, Tides was founded by Drummond Pike, one of the original social entrepreneurs; and over the years the organization has evolved from a great idea to one of the top 100 social sector organizations in the United States. Tides Foundation was started out of a need to facilitate the giving of philanthropists who were concerned with building a better future for individuals and communities all over the world. In the late '70's, Tides Foundation founded a Projects Program that nurtured new nonprofit activities and the program became legally incorporated as Tides Center in 1996.

Through the 1980s, Tides grew slowly as we defined our role as a values based infrastructure service for progressive nonprofit work. The 1990’s was a time of exponential growth for Tides. We opened the Thoreau Center for Sustainability - a twelve building complex in San Francisco's Presidio National Park dedicated to nonprofits concerned about social and environmental sustainability; and in 1999, we founded Groundspring.org to facilitate online giving to progressive groups. In the new millennium, our real estate endeavors evolved into a program called Tides Shared Spaces which creates, operates and promotes sustainable workspace for nonprofits.

To date, Tides has managed project and grantmaking activities totaling more than $2 billion. We have fiscally sponsored more than 800 nonprofit projects, and we are proud to have helped launch a number of important organizations such as Conservation International, Environmental Working Group, the Garden Conservancy, The Story of Stuff, and the League of Young Voters Education Fund. Our growth is a testament to the joint commitment among our partners and staff to supporting positive social change.

Why "Tides?"

There are a number of reasons why the word "tides" is an appropriate metaphor for our work. Tides are a clean, efficient and sustainable source of energy. Tides connect us around the world. And tides are constantly changing the landscape around us. The "Tides" name comes from a Bay Area independent bookstore that once served as a meeting place for readers, writers and activists. While honoring the progressive community which founded Tides, the name also suggests the remarkable power derived from people and ideas coming together at the right time, in the right place.

Drummond Pike founded Tides in 1976 and served as President and CEO from 1976 until 2010. Drummond has played a significant role in shaping and advancing the independent sector; and the impact of his work over the years is visible in many ways. As one of the first “social entrepreneurs,” Drummond has created a legacy of innovation and increased capacity for the nonprofit sector. Drummond has been honored for his unique contributions in developing the field of philanthropy. When he founded Tides, Drummond pioneered the use of donor advised funds to support grassroots and public interest organizations on both a national and international scale. As the catalyst for starting hundreds of nonprofit projects, grantmaking funds, and organizations, Drummond's work has positively impacted the lives of thousands of people both nationally and globally. He is an activist, a visionary, a connector, and an innovative leader who has inspired and mobilized people by helping them see the path and the structures they can use to achieve their visions. As the first leader of Tides, Drummond successfully grew the organization from a great idea to one of the top social sector organizations in the United States—that has built, mobilized, and unified people, institutions, and causes.

"In the simplest terms we help people help other people. We believe that America’s greatest asset is entrepreneurialism and that doesn’t exist only in the private sector. The entrepreneurial spirit is part of our organizational DNA at Tides." Drummond Pike, Tides Founder