Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor: BHS Insurance

Symposium Check-in, 9:00am – 12:00pm
Hotel Lobby

Buses depart hotel for Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 12:00pm
Hotel Lobby Dropoff

Explore Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 12:45pm – 1:45pm
Lunch on Your Own
Guided botany tours available upon arrival

Welcome Address & Keynote, 1:45pm – 3pm
Presented by SwipeTrack
Warden Oasis Theater
Current Trends in Fundraising
Bill Stanczykiewcz, IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy 

Fundraisers bring a wealth of expertise and experience to their work, but many rarely have time to explore what new developments in fundraising mean for their organization. Receive updates on the latest information and research about charitable giving, as well as data on donor advised funds, planned giving, digital fundraising, and crowdfunding. Learn practical ways to incorporate this new knowledge into your own fundraising strategies.

Keynote made possible by XTruLink.

Concurrent Sessions, 3:15pm – 4:15pm
Session A
Warden Oasis Theater
Building a Major Giving Pipeline from Your Membership
Bill Stanczykiewcz, IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy 

Major gift fundraising involves strategically identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding gifts from donors. In this session, you will learn how to identify the right potential donors for major gifts, where to spend your time, when you should ask for an upgrade, and how to cultivate relationships with donors. Stewardship is more than just saying thank you. Learn creative strategies for recognizing donors and stewarding the donor relationship.

Session B
Garden Classroom
Digital Pathways to Loyalty: Enhancing Membership Retention in Public Gardens
Dan Sullivan, Cuseum; Lori Bockstanz, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; Amanda Sanders, Filoli House and Gardens; Caitlin Hill, Tucson Botanical Garden 

In the current digital era, public gardens stand at a crucial juncture, facing the dual challenge of rejuvenating member relationships post-pandemic and adapting to rapidly shifting tech preferences of consumers. Simultaneously, they must foster stakeholder investment while navigating their financial sustainability amidst economic unpredictability. Addressing this, our session, “Digital Pathways to Loyalty,” seeks to uncover and share innovative digital methods that leading gardens employ to bolster membership loyalty and retention. Our exploration begins by gauging the digital landscape of public gardens and the expectations of contemporary members, delving into survey insights that shed light on the consumer demands and digital offerings shaping garden membership. From there we pivot to actual success stories. Representatives from prominent gardens will impart their wisdom, sharing experiences that led to tangible results. Attendees will hear from gardens that boosted membership adoption and retention by leveraging digital tools designed to engage members and foster loyalty. Targeting membership coordinators, development officers, and garden administrators, among others, our session seeks to demystify the challenge of digital adoption. Attendees will walk away with a comprehensive understanding of proven digital strategies, insights into engaging the digital-native demographic without sidelining others, and methods to maintain the cherished human touch that gardens are renowned for.

Through this exploration, we aim to empower gardens of all sizes to embrace the digital revolution confidently, ensuring that they remain relevant, engaging, and above all, places of connection in an ever-evolving landscape.

This session is made possible by Cuseum.

Session C
Taylor Plaza
Bird Tour with Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Education Department

The Desert Museum is a hotspot for bird biodiversity. With the variety of niches and ecosystems, not to mention fountains and gardens, the Museum is full of wildlife. We’ll look around for our usual species and take delight in finding winter migrants.

Space for 20 and we’ll split into smaller groups to tour. Bring your own binoculars. Same tour as Session C at 4:30pm.

Concurrent Sessions, 4:30pm – 5:30pm
Session A
Warden Oasis Theater
The Power of Corporate Partnerships
Rachel Lerner Rosenberg, Chicago Botanic Garden; Melissa Schaap, Denver Botanic Gardens 

This panel will discuss the overall strategy of how Corporate Partnership Programs and Corporate Sponsorships can support the missions of the institution. Find out how your garden can create long-lasting relationships that help your garden fundraise and build stronger board relationships through these stewardship strategies.

Session B
Garden Classroom
Moving Visitors to Members and Members to Donors
Courtney Stanford, Desert Botanical Garden; Dana Terrazas, Desert Botanical Garden 

Learn how the Marketing and Communications and Membership teams at Desert Botanical Garden are using strategic marketing tools to identify new audiences. We will look at how we have designed programming to attract new audiences as visitors, and how our programming has served at a catalyst to drive membership & engagement for newer audiences.

Session C
Taylor Plaza
Bird Tour with Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Education Department

The Desert Museum is a hotspot for bird biodiversity. With the variety of niches and ecosystems, not to mention fountains and gardens, the Museum is full of wildlife. We’ll look around for our usual species and take delight in finding winter migrants.

Space for 20 and we’ll split into smaller groups to tour. Bring your own binoculars. Same tour as Session C at 3:15pm.

Evening Event at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Food and an evening of fun and entertainment will be had by all!

Buses depart Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for hotel, 7:30pm 

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor: BHS Insurance

Start day at Wyndham Westward Look  

Light Continental Breakfast, 8:00am 
Santa Catalina Ballroom

Welcome and Opening Plenary Session, 8:30am – 10:00am
Santa Catalina Ballroom
Giving USA 2023: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2022 and the Pulse of Membership for Botanical Gardens
Richard Tollefson, The Phoenix Philanthropy Group; Cheryl House, The Phoenix Philanthropy Group; Dana Hines, Membership Consultants 

As a trusted, long-time partner of The Giving Institute, The Phoenix Philanthropy Group is honored to present Giving USA 2023 to the American Public Gardens Association. This unique opportunity features Richard Tollefson, president of The Phoenix Philanthropy Group, and Cheryl House, CFRE, executive vice president, who will help you stay at the forefront of national philanthropic trends by breaking down the 2022 numbers and translating the data into actionable steps to magnify your fundraising performance in 2023 and beyond. 

Each year for the past 14 years Membership Consultants has collected membership trend data from membership managers.  These data are collected at end of year and mid-year to monitor the progress  and health of membership programs nationally. Reporting specific to Gardens will be shared in a session that highlights the health and status of programs, as well as the specific marketing efforts being employed and with levels of success.  Gardens and other outdoor venues fared the best in the initial recovery from the pandemic but have in some cases been challenged to maintain those initial successes.  Hear the full story in the telling of the numbers in this valuable benchmarking study highlighting the latest trends in the botanical membership world.  

Concurrent Sessions, 10:15am – 11:15am
Session A
Gold Room
Leveraging a Milestone Anniversary for Philanthropic Growth

Natalie Knight, The Morton Arboretum; Jessica Anderson, The Morton Arboretum 

In celebration of The Morton Arboretum’s 100-year anniversary, the institution launched centennial fundraising initiatives in 2021, which included a mini-campaign to build a new $16M garden, fund expanded tree planting efforts, and grow its donor and member support. A multi-faceted match opportunity and bolstered planned gift efforts added to the success of these fundraising efforts. By leveraging the energy and excitement of a milestone anniversary and the inspiring leadership of retiring President and CEO Dr. Gerry Donnelly, new philanthropic milestones were achieved including record-setting leadership gift sizes, match participation, and secured planned gifts. Morton Arboretum development staff Natalie Knight and Jessica Anderson will share the strategic framework and integral steps taken to reach cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship goals.  

Session B
Santa Catalina Ballroom

Membership Price Change – Planning, Aligning, and Implementing
Brian Russo, Naples Botanical Garden; Melissa Dietrich, Longwood Gardens 

In October of 2021, Naples Botanical Garden made their first program-wide pricing increase since 2014. Following a holistic communication approach, the Garden was able to manage internal and external expectations and continue to see growth in their membership program. Learn how the Garden used survey data and clear communication strategy (including one near communication disaster) to rollout their pricing increase and provide insight for any upcoming membership changes.   Hear from Longwood Gardens, about the organization’s recently launched data initiative to understand current and prospective members’ price sensitivity, in addition to testing potential benefits changes. This data allowed us to see potential impacts, so we can ensure our Membership program continues to be relevant and sustainable. 

Concurrent Sessions, 11:30am – 12:30pm
Session A
Gold Room
Campaign Readiness
Paul Johnson, Creative Fundraising Associates 

The leadership of your garden has decided that they want to embark on a big project (build a new building, increase the endowment, fund new programs) that is going to require extraordinary resources — both internally and externally.  Are you ready to begin such an effort?  This session will explore all the elements that an organization needs to consider to get to the starting line of a campaign that will lead to campaign success.  

Session B
Santa Catalina Ballroom

Moving Beyond Spreadsheets: How to Rally Your Whole Team Around a Big Tech Challenge
Courtney Stanford, Desert Botanical Garden; Michelle Paul, Backoffice Thinking 

Is your existing technology holding you back? Your garden’s day-to-day operations rely on a variety of hardware and software tools to get the job done, but these systems so often feel like more of a hindrance than a help. Sometimes the problems are obvious, like when staff struggle with clunky old platforms, or have to waste time with manual data imports. In addition, the pandemic brought about changes in member and donor behavior that demanded more from existing systems. You know there must be a better way… but how can you get there? Come hear how Desert Botanical Garden embarked on journey of technology transformation, making big changes and getting the whole team on board with the project!   A few years back, the DBG team realized we were quickly outgrowing existing technology. The result: the online purchase experience was confusing, updates were slow, and there was no clear “single source of truth” to support data-driven decision-making. All these individual pain points were obvious, but figuring out the solution – and getting agreement from all the key players – presented a challenge. With patience and persuasion (and a little bit of help), the Garden was able to overcome institutional inertia, and rally together to create a plan that would change not just our technology, but also our processes and our whole mindset.  In this session, we will show how DBG got there: learning to collaborate more effectively, celebrating our successes, creating a collective vision of our future. We will give you tips and tools that you can take and use with your institution.  

Plenary Lunch Session, 12:45pm – 2:00pm
Santa Catalina Ballroom
Understanding the Donor Perspective
Michelle Conklin, Tucson Botanical Gardens 

Michelle Conklin, Executive Director of Tucson Botanical Gardens, and a panel of Tucson’s top donors will share what motivates their giving to the organization. Learn about how the donor views our work and how you can build lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with your donors.  

This session is made possible by Creative Fundraising Associates.

Concurrent Sessions, 2:15pm –3:15pm
Session A
Gold Room

Relationships in Bloom: Growing a Development Department in Challenging Times
Deborah Miller, Holden Forest & Gardens; Samantha Lengel, Holden Forest & Gardens 

Did you inherit challenges from a predecessor, a team with high turnover, or a development program that is, for lack of a better term, a mess?  Do you want to take your current program to the next level?  Did the pandemic force you to rethink how you do things?  If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then this session is for you.  Holden Forests & Gardens is building a sustainable development program that continues to grow and change after a challenging merger of two organizations and the uncertainty of the pandemic.   In this session, we will explore changes made to staffing, data integrity and analytics, policies and procedures, membership, annual fund, moves management and relationships building, fundraising events and stewardship, corporate and foundation relations, and planned giving.  

Session B
Santa Catalina Ballroom

Membership Planning: Charting a Path to a Sustainable Future
Mira Zergani, Morris Arboretum & Gardens; Rosie Siemer, FIVESEED 

In this dynamic and conversational session, attendees will learn how the Morris Arboretum & Gardens set out to optimize its membership program and achieve the organization’s long-term goals. Featuring an insightful case study on the membership planning process, attendees will hear how the Morris team invested in a comprehensive 360-degree assessment of its membership program to evaluate gaps, challenge assumptions, and uncover opportunities. Building a data-driven membership program requires an understanding of key performance indicators, member and visitor needs and preferences, and the costs associated with running the membership program. In this deep dive session, attendees will learn how Morris Arboretum & Gardens leveraged a mix of research and planning methods, including a pricing study, behavioral analysis, cost-benefit analysis, benchmarking, and modeling, to inform its new membership program and develop a custom model for forecasting sales and revenue. Covering a lot of ground, this session will include discussion around crucial steps in the planning process as well as the importance of cross-departmental collaboration, how to build the business case for research, the value of engaging an external strategy partner, and how to overcome data challenges. Presenters will also share background into the key questions that were a priority for the analysis such as “Do members upgrade in an expected way?” and “How long does it take on average, post membership sign-up, for a member to make an extra donation?” Importantly, this session will emphasize why leading with purpose is critical to the success of any planning effort. Hear about key findings from the research and assessment such as the lifetime value of a member, trends in membership renewal and churn rates, the price sensitivity of members, and industry benchmarks. Attendees will gain valuable insight into the membership planning process and will take home concrete strategies that they can apply at their own institution to evaluate various aspects of their membership program. 

Roundtable Discussions, 3:30pm – 4:15pm 
Santa Catalina Ballroom

Roundtable 1
Managing a Hybrid Membership Team
Brian Russo, Naples Botanical Garden 

Roundtable 2
Bridging the Gap between Culture and Philanthropy
Katherine Trumble, San Antonio Botanical Garden; Gabrielle Everett, San Antonio Botanical Garden 

Roundtable 3
Digital Membership Transformation: Securing Institutional Cooperation and Member Engagement
Carey Moreland, The Morton Arboretum

Roundtable 4
Friends Make Better Fundraisers
Abigail Sucsy, Ventura Botanical Gardens 

Roundtable 5
Level Up! How to Improve Member Engagement (and maybe even the bottom line)!
Erin White, Naples Botanical Garden 

Roundtable 6
Exploring the Role of AI in Fundraising
Lynn Swain, Cornell Botanic Gardens

Roundtable 7
Recurring Giving
Robert Price, Denver Botanic Gardens

Buses depart hotel for Tucson Botanical Gardens, 4:30pm 
Hotel Lobby Dropoff

LightsUp! at Tucson Botanical Gardens, 5:00pm – 7:30pm 
We’re keeping the lights up just for you! Experience the Tucson Botanical Gardens’ LightsUp! A Festival of Illumination- a new, blockbuster event with loving homages to TBG’s 30-year history of luminaria nights. Then, enjoy live music and dinner in the historic Porter family Reception Garden. 

Buses depart Tucson Botanical Gardens for hotel, 7:30pm 

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor: BHS Insurance

Buses depart for Tohono Chul Park, 8:00am
Hotel Lobby Dropoff

Light Breakfast and Guided Tours, 8:15am- 9:15am
Pavilion

Concurrent Sessions, 9:30am – 10:30am
Session A
Pavilion

Sowing the Seeds of a Major Gifts Program
Anne Kohn, GG+A 

As we emerge from the pandemic and gardens look to rebuild or increase philanthropic support, growing a robust major gifts program will be critical. This session is devoted to the art and science of major gifts work. Led by Anne S. Kohn, Vice President at Grenzebach Glier + Associates, you will hear best practices, powerful insights, and memorable examples of organization raising major gifts from high-net-worth individuals. Participants will gain a clear understanding of major gifts best practices and learn how to deploy them including communicating institutional priorities focused on impact, planning for successful major gifts solicitations, and strategies to prepare for the Great Wealth Transfer. 

Session B
Wilson

Understanding and Adapting to Member Motivations
Lynn Swain, Cornell Botanic Gardens; Rosie Siemer, FIVESEED 

Members are foundational to the financial and social success of public gardens—and yet the sector to date has lacked rigorous study of the complex web of pain points, priorities, and underlying needs that motivate individuals to join a membership program. In this inspiring session, attendees will gain insight into leading-edge research and digital tools designed to help cultural organizations expand their reach, nurture engagement, and build resilience into their membership program. Attendees will get an in-depth look at the results of a groundbreaking industry-wide study that was conducted with a cohort of 30 organizations representing a diverse range of cultural institutions of varying sizes, disciplines, admission types, and geographies. With an aim of deepening our collective understanding of member motivations, attendees will hear from the study’s Principal Researcher who will speak to how the research findings can be applied to membership acquisition and retention strategies, including marketing automation and personalization, membership benefits and program design, and cultivating more engaged members.  Importantly, this session will include an exploration of various new technologies, trends, and research methodologies shaping the membership field, including a deep dive into the extraordinary potential of cutting-edge tools to help gardens test ideas, measure results, and innovate to better meet diverse audience needs.  Attendees will also benefit from hearing how one garden is applying the results of this study to transforming their membership program. Pandemic necessity has been the mother of reinvention at Cornell Botanic Gardens.  Staffing cuts and restructuring within Cornell University made soliciting, processing and fulfilling a traditional benefits-based membership program impossible.  Making a compelling case through mission-impact marketing, processing all gifts as annual fund contributions, and stewarding with digital “membership” card acknowledgements has driven as 65% increase in revenue since 2020 and increased staff efficiency 85%.   With a future-forward tone, this session will highlight possibilities for thinking differently about the role of membership and will encourage attendees to adopt an innovation mindset. Attendees will take away evidence-based, actionable strategies for creating mutual value for members and public. 

Concurrent Sessions, 10:45am –11:45am
Session A
Pavilion

Stories from the Front Lines of Planned Giving
Audra Platz, South Coast Botanical Gardens; Sally Stanton, New England Botanic Gardens

In this panel presentation, you will hear from four industry professionals on the best methods for cultivating and recognizing planned giving donors to your organization. Many get stuck thinking we need to know everything about planned gift vehicles in order to have planned giving conversations.  Not true. Many donors have estate attorneys or financial advisors.  If you build a solid plan, work at it, build partnerships and have honest conversations with your donors, you will succeed. 

Session B
Wilson

Comprehensive Inclusion in an Exclusive Space: A Garden for All
Brian Russo, Naples Botanical Garden; Shannon Abitbol, JCA 

Nestled in Florida’s Southwest corner on the Gulf of Mexico, the Greater Naples area is an 89% white community with a median income of $125,306 and 6% of the population below the poverty line. Naples Botanical Garden consists of 170-acres and welcomes over 260,000 visitors annually. So how does the Garden provide an inclusive space for their entire community? In this session, you’ll learn how Naples Botanical Garden’s Membership Program “A Garden for All” welcomes their community—regardless of income. Join us for a case study on how the Garden, by leveraging community partnerships and strategic operations and technology, was able to achieve A Garden for All. 

This session made possibly by JCA.

Lunch and Plenary Closing Session, 11:45am – 12:45pm
Pavilion
More than Child’s Play: A Unique Approach to Introducing Young People to Nature
Jamie Maslyn Larson, Tohono Chul Park; Hilary Van Alsburg, Children’s Museum Tucson 

In January 2023, the Children’s Museum Tucson moved their satellite location in neighboring Oro Valley to Tohono Chul Park. Through this unique and groundbreaking collaboration, children are now being introduced to the natural world in a whole new way and Tohono Chul Park is quickly becoming a go-to destination for families and kids, a demographic that made up less than 20% of park membership previous to this partnership.  Tohono Chul Park Executive Director Jamie Maslyn Larson and Children’s Museum Tucson Executive Director Hilary Van Alsburg will talk about the success of this venture (and a few lessons learned, too) and share ideas about how this type of collaboration can be a real win-win for non-profits looking to expand their reach and find innovative ways to team up with other like-minded but sometimes unlikely partners. 

Conclusion of Symposium, 12:45pm

Buses Depart Tohono Chul for Airport, 1:00pm
All other transportation is on your own. No buses will be returning to the Westward Look. 

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