The PFS Story

When Lyman Casey was asked to manage the day-to-day business of his family’s foundation in the late 1970s, he was eager to learn more about the field and compare notes with other philanthropists.

In response, Lyman started a regular brown bag lunch gathering to bring philanthropists together to share knowledge—a long-lived initiative that sparked the firm’s enduring culture of learning. He developed more formal grantmaking processes and learned as much as he could about the programs his foundation supported. He made it a point to visit grantees, see their work in action, and build relationships with nonprofits.

When some friends decided to start their own foundations, they turned to Lyman for management help. He realized that all their foundations could be more efficient and effective if they shared operations, financial management, and program development resources in a single office. True to the Bay Area’s startup ethos, he founded Pacific Foundation Services in 1987 as a new model for serving the philanthropic sector.

Now led by Lyman’s son, Charlie Casey, PFS has become a regional institution, serving over 30 private foundations with a team of 28 working from offices in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and the North Bay. Throughout its growth, the firm has stayed true to the founder’s dedication to creating smart systems and tailoring services to each client—a one-size-fits-one approach that recognizes no two foundations are alike and that prioritizes relationships with nonprofits and clients.

Charlie, who joined PFS as a program officer in 2003 and became president in 2006, keeps PFS focused on adapting to change, breaking down barriers between foundations and nonprofits, and providing sophisticated solutions that give private foundations the freedom to pursue their vision with confidence. Every foundation approaches its work in its own way, but together, PFS and our clients champion meaningful, effective philanthropy that helps communities thrive.

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