Keep Growing 2020: The Ten-Year Strategic Plan
Staff planting

Vision and Goals

Fundraising: Vision

The Chicago Botanic Garden relies on contributions from government partners, individuals, foundations, corporations, and memberships to fund almost 50 percent of its operating budget as well as to meet its capital needs. The Garden’s endowment also provides critical annual support, and as it grows larger, it will help mitigate future funding risks and allow the Garden to endure well into the future. Therefore, critical to the realization of the Keep Growing strategic plan is a record ten years of fundraising from all sources for the annual, capital, and endowment funds. 

Fundraising: Goals

Specifically, the Chicago Botanic Garden will do the following:

E.1   Remain committed to the private-public partnership between the Chicago Horticultural Society and the Forest Preserves of Cook County, the Garden’s single largest annual and capital donor, partner, and landlord;

E.2   Meet the capital goals set forth in its Keep Growing strategic plan. As of 2014, projects already completed include the North Lake shoreline restoration, McCormick Entry Drive and Plaza, Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden, Kleinman Family Cove, Garden View Café renovation, and North Branch Trail addition. The Garden will raise the funds necessary to build the new Kris Jarantoski Campus (including a new nursery, greenhouses, and garden) and the new Regenstein Foundation Learning Campus before the close of 2020, and will secure funding for the McDonald Woods trail expansion, completion of the Barbara Brown Nature Reserve, and a broad suite of maintenance projects;

E.3   Grow the endowment principal to $120 million by 2020 through donations and market performance. This number is based on a goal of having an endowment four times the size of the operating budget;

E.4   Increase membership in the Garden Heritage Society, open to individuals and families who have included the Garden in their estate plans;

E.5   Significantly expand the number of donors to the Annual Fund, boost the overall revenue from Annual Fund giving, and increase the number of individuals who support the Garden at the President’s Circle level. Provide exceptional donor database management and services—in person, over the telephone, and online—to benefit donors at all levels;

E.6   Continue to host “the best” fundraising events (e.g., Summer Dinner Dance; Harvest Ball; All Aboard!; A Rare Affair; Garden, Antiques & Design Show; and Orchid Show preview) that are known for being fun, consistent with Garden aesthetics and standards, and appealing to diverse audiences from the city and suburbs. Grow event revenue and ensure that event organizers and partners (co-chairs, donors, sponsors, and attendees) find the experience of working (and playing) with Garden staff uplifting and satisfying;

E.7   Increase the number of new Garden memberships, sustain the high rate of renewing memberships, and provide exceptional member services;

E.8   Continue to build meaningful strategic partnerships with corporations that broaden understanding of the Garden’s mission and support capital projects, Garden events and programs, and the Corporate Partnership Program, and build on the success of the Corporate Roundtable;

E.9   Increase the size and number of foundation and government grants and government contracts at local, state, national, and international levels;

E.10   Steward and cultivate relationships with elected officials and their staff and agency personnel. Secure new funding sources and protect those currently in existence—both for the Garden and for plant conservation generally;

E.11   Assume leadership roles in coordinated advocacy and fundraising initiatives, such as those organized by the Plant Collections Alliance, American Public Gardens Association, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, American Alliance of Museums, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Chicago Wilderness, and others that bring together government and nongovernment organizations locally, nationally, and internationally; and 

E.12   Provide the inspiration and support necessary to motivate 100 percent of the Board of Directors, Life Directors, Woman’s Board, and Guild of the Chicago Botanic Garden to donate to the Plants for Life 2020 fundraising campaign to help achieve the goals of the Keep Growing strategic plan, the Annual Fund, and Garden events—and to consider joining the Garden Heritage Society.