Grow Your Garden

February 27-March 1 | Atlanta, GA
Hosted by: Atlanta Botanical Garden

Sponsored by
Membership Consultants

Scholarship Sponsor: SD&A Telemarketing

Technology Partner: MobileCause

The American Public Gardens Association has been named an Approved Provider with CFRE International for 2018-19. Grow Your Garden has been approved for 9.5 credit hours towards Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) accreditation.



Tuesday, February 26 through Saturday, March 2, 2019
These are not official Symposium events and transportation is not provided.
FREE admission to these Member Gardens with name and garden affiliation to those arriving early or staying after Symposium 

Wednesday, February 27

1:00 pm – Buses Depart from Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center 


1:30 – 2:00 pm – Registration at Atlanta Botanical Garden


Welcome & Opening Remarks

2:00 – 2:30 pm
Mary Pat Matheson, The Anna and Hays Mershon President & CEO, Atlanta Botanical Garden

Mary Pat Matheson

Getting to Know You

2:30 – 3:00 pm
Join your Symposium Planning committee for a fun, interactive activity designed to break the ice and set the mood for an informative Symposium. This activity will help you nurture your network of colleagues and build relationships you can depend on for support and resources. 

Managing Up to Success: Creating Realistic Membership Plans, Goals and Expectations

3:00 – 4:00 pm
Managing a successful membership and development program requires informed leadership by a staff well-versed in all aspects of their program and the ability to educate institutional leaders about the necessary requirements of that program. A membership or development manager who can create realistic plans, projections, goals and funding requirements for a successful program is key. “Managing up” the garden’s organizational structure is a way to help decision makers understand the needs for funding and staffing, and revenue production possibilities. The manager is in the best position to create realistic projections by drawing on their deep knowledge and experience of working with the program. This is by far the best way to determine the future of the program. 
Presenters: Dana Hines, CFRE, Vice President, Membership Marketing at Membership Consultants, A Gabriel Group Company; Patricia Rich, ACFRE, Partner at EMD Consulting Group, LLC

Self-Guided Tours of Atlanta Botanical Garden

4:00-5:45 pm
Reinvigorate yourself and get back into nature as you experience Atlanta Botanical Garden. From the Japanese Garden to the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory, there are many places to explore and exciting gardens to discover. 

Garden Reception

6:00-7:30 pm
Hosted by Atlanta Botanical Garden 

7:45 pm – Buses Depart for Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center 

Thursday, February 28

8:00 am
Buses Depart from Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center 


A Conversation with the Experts

9:00 – 10:00 am
Learn from icons in the fields of public gardens and fundraising in this informal conversation about philanthropy and leadership.
Presenters: Mary Pat Matheson, The Anna and Hays Mershon President & CEO, Atlanta Botanical Garden; Ann Curry, Principal, Coxe Curry and Associates

Breathing Space 

10:00 – 10:15 am
Take a breath, stretch your legs, and take care of yourself. 

Unlocking the Potential of Programming to Advance Membership & Fundraising

10:15 – 11:15 am
More and more, public gardens are looking to increased programming as a way of achieving their mission. These programs and events can be highly valuable tools for increasing membership and contributions, and for deepening engagement to move constituents up the giving ladder. This session will explore the success of three gardens using programming to learn about their constituents, grow major donor circles, and secure individual and corporate support.
Presenters: Tom Cirillo, Chief Advancement Officer, Portland Japanese Garden; Leslie Findlen, Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Marcia Flynn, Director of Event Services, Desert Botanical Garden.

Breakout Sessions:

11:15 – 12:15 pm

Option A: The Anatomy of a Gift Agreement

Learn the key parts of a gift agreement and gift acceptance policy in this session designed to equip you with the tools you need to review and establish these essential elements of a development program of any size. Participants will leave this session understanding the potential pitfalls of not addressing these issues and will gain confidence in discussing and accepting gifts. 
Presenters: Claudia Gee Vassar, President & General Counsel, Houston Botanic Garden; Laura A. Easton, CFRE, VP of Development & Marketing, Houston Botanic Garden

Option B: Growing Your Membership Households – Roundtable Discussion

Come and join the discussion by offering your best campaign idea, special offer, and/or renewal tactics and learn what your colleagues’ best tricks are too.
Moderator: Melissa Dietrich, Associate Director, Membership, Longwood Gardens


12:15 – 1:30 pm

Breakout Sessions:

1:30 – 2:30 pm

Option A: Mining for Gold: Prospecting & Managing Your ROI

Learn to mine your database for prospective donors and to create systems that increase staff efficiency and measure your Garden’s return on investment in your philanthropy programs. Using the successful work of the Atlanta Botanical Garden as an example, Katie Sharrard will present ideas to serve philanthropy programs of all sizes. No advanced software or dedicated database staff required!
Presenter: Katie Sharrard, Advancement Database Manager, Atlanta Botanical Garden

Option B: Grow Your Corporate Support

Learn ways to identify, cultivate, and steward corporate and business partnerships. Win donor support by leveraging the things most important to them. Walk away with materials from two gardens sharing their sponsorship opportunities, corporate giving levels, and benefits.
Presenters: Missy Whisler, SVP, Sales & Development, Dallas Arboretum; Winnie Hough, Community Partner & Tribute Program Manager, The North Carolina Arboretum

Breakout Sessions:

2:35 – 3:35 pm

Option A: What to Do Without Admissions?

What can you do to incentivize membership if your garden doesn’t charge admission? Or is it time to reconsider your free admission policy? The interplay between admissions and membership revenue can be complex. Two gardens have recently decided to transform their free admission policy. Learn the results of Chicago Botanic Gardens’ study of changing from free admission with a parking fee to a per-person admission and its effect on membership, and how the Dawes Arboretum enhanced its membership through admission. Others are continuing their free admission policy but adding new reasons for members to join. Hear how Duke Gardens is revamping their membership program for deeper engagement, and how Cornell Botanic Gardens is creating digital assets for their members.  
Presenters: Lauren Smith Hong, Annual Fund and Membership Officer, Sarah P. Duke Gardens; Leigh Ann Miller, Director of Development, Dawes Arboretum; Anne Boynton, Senior Director, Membership & Annual Giving, Chicago Botanic Garden; Lynn Swain, Director of Development, Cornell Botanic Gardens 

Option B: A Garden-Wide Approach: Converting Visitors to Members & Members to Donors

Philanthropy is a team effort! At the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Membership, Development and Guest Experience teams work together to convert visitors to members, engage and upgrade them to higher membership levels, and cultivate key members for annual and major gifts. Learn from the team as they share a range of techniques, from “tried-and-true” to “new and innovative,” in order to integrate the message and ensure success.  
Presenters: Claudia McDavid, Membership Manager; Melissa Roberts, Development Manager; Jason Morris, Guest Experience Senior Manager 

Breathing Space

3:35 – 3:50 pm
Take a breath, stretch your legs, and grab a snack.  

Making the Most of Your Membership: How to Use Gardens Benchmarking and Mobile Fundraising

3:50 – 4:50 pm
Did you know that the Association offers important public garden benchmarking data that you can access and use to evaluate your operations?  Whether a staff member or CEO, any member can access this powerful tool on the Association’s website. Also, with the launch of the 2019 National Public Gardens Week comes the opportunity for you to sign on to test-drive the Association's new mobile fundraising platform to raise funds for your garden. Learn more as Joan Thomas takes you on a deeper dive into these powerful Association tools.
Presenter: Joan Thomas, CFRE, Director, External Relations, American Public Gardens Association

Learn From the Best: One Another!

4:50 – 5:50 pm
Network with colleagues from gardens across the nation and learn from their experiences while you share your own. Topics will range from member retention to major gifts and beyond. These informal roundtable discussions are designed to help you build relationships with your colleagues that you can call on for ideas and support for years to come. 
Roundtable Facilitators: Melissa Dietrich, Associate Director of Membership, Longwood Gardens; Katie Getting, Membership & Grant Coordinator, Reiman Gardens; Kaila Jackson, Advancement Department, Atlanta Botanical Garden; Leslie Myers, Vice President, Institutional Advancement, Atlanta Botanical Gardens; Kate Senner, Director of Development & Major Gifts, Sarah P. Duke Gardens; Lynn Swain, Director of Development, Cornell Botanic Gardens; Joan Thomas, CFRE, Director External Relations, American Public Gardens Association; Melissa Tyrone, CFRE, Director of Philanthropy & Membership, Bok Tower Gardens

Dinner at Longleaf Restaurant

6:00 – 7:30 pm
Hosted by Atlanta Botanical Garden
Longleaf is in the heart of Atlanta Botanical Garden and offers commanding views of the Anne Cox Chambers Southern Seasons Garden and Levy Parterre. Executive Chef Jason Paolini will present a menu to delight the senses in this restaurant inspired by the longleaf pine, the resilient evergreen conifer indigenous to Georgia and the Southeast and a focus on significant conservation efforts.

7:45 pm
Buses Depart for Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center 

Friday, March 1

8:00 am
Buses Depart from Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center


“Dig, Seed, Water, Grow:” Story-Selling the Gardening Experience

9:00 – 10:30 am
Learn how to create stories that evoke emotion and convey the magic of the garden experience to enhance your membership and inspire your donors. This highly interactive session will change the way you communicate about your garden and equip you with a template for impactful marketing messages and story structure that you can use for your development communications.

Guest Presenter: Andrieka "AJ" Austin is 'The Messenger'
An award-winning Master Business Coach, Professional Trainer, Speaker, and Founder of where she helps businesses confidently convert conversations to clients, cash, checks, and credit cards through her best-selling program, ‘Messaging Magic!’. 
Andrieka Austin

Closing Session: Recharging our Batteries Mindfully

10:45 – 11:45 am 
“Oh, you work in a botanic garden? How peaceful is that?” If you had a dollar for every time you fielded that question, you probably wouldn’t need to raise your membership prices next year, right? Join former San Diego Botanic Garden director of development Tracie Barham for a session that will empower you to reclaim for yourselves the joy, curiosity, and yes, the peace that your visitors experience in the gardens you serve. In this interactive closing session, you are invited to reflect, recharge, and return to the day-to-day with a mindfulness approach powered by play.

Guest Presenter: Tracie Barham, Principal at Tracie Barham Consulting & Coaching
Tracie Barham has spent 20 years serving the community within environmental and human service organizations, finding inspiration in the powerful impact of the purpose-driven sector. As development director and executive director, she’s led teams and worked collaboratively with volunteer and staff leadership. Tracie is also a certified yoga and meditation teacher, and she is currently pursuing a professional coaching certification through New Ventures West. When she realized that the practice of mindful leadership united her personal and professional passions, Tracie made it her mission to empower others to transcend limits through leadership coaching and mindful workplace facilitation. Tracie supports the integration of simple but effective personal and group practices to enhance engagement, authenticity and focus. Her vision is that purpose-driven leaders and teams will be empowered to treat themselves and each other with the same compassion that they extend to their clients and customers, thereby accessing their full vitality in service of their personal and organizational missions!
Tracie Barham

Lunch/Departure Option

12:00 – 1:15 pm
Option A: Trip #1: Transport to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport  
Option B: Lunch at Atlanta Botanical Garden

Enjoy The Garden

1:15 – 1:45 pm 
Enjoy a final stroll through Atlanta Botanical Garden, grab a souvenir from The Garden Shop and say farewell to your hosts and fellow colleagues.

Final Departure

2:00 pm 
Bus A: Transport to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport  
Bus B: Transport to Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center