Day 2: Thursday, February 25, 2021 



A Crucial Conversation: The Role of Membership in IDEA  

Moderator: Rosie Siemer, Founder + CEO, FIVESEED; Presenters: Mary Bradley, Director of Member, Visitor and Volunteer Services, Denver Botanic Gardens; Ash Harris, Vice President for Guest Experience, San Antonio Zoo; Nicole Krom, Membership and Outreach Manager, Longwood Gardens; Brian Russo, Director of Membership and Annual Giving, Naples Botanical Garden 

This informal and candid panel conversation, moderated by author and membership strategist Rosie Siemer, will explore a number of timely and fundamental topics about inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA) in public garden membership including: – The role of membership in supporting IDEA priorities – Evolving the traditional membership program structure to better serve our communities – Opportunities to proactively attract more diverse audiences for membership – Balancing member revenue strategies with IDEA goals – Gaining a deeper understanding of member needs – Mitigating or removing barriers that prevent nontraditional audiences from participating and joining as members. 

Join a ROUNDTABLE at 3:30 PM and discuss! 


Bringing Lapsed Members Back to Membership, NOW – Tactics, Tips, Trends 

Presenters: Lori Bockstanz, Assistant Director of Development, Membership, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; Martha Ernst, Daniller + Company

As a casualty of the pandemic, membership in most visitor-based organizations has seen a drop in membership counts. In this fast-paced session come to learn how to turn your large lapsed member file into engaged, recaptured members using a variety of methods. Your lapsed recapture processes must be ramped up right now to bring back recently lapsed members with the right engaging copy, offers, and more. Presenters include an agency expertand a garden peer who will share what is working (and not). You’ll leave with practical how-to’s for making your lapsed file re-engage successfully.  

Join a ROUNDTABLE at 3:30 PM and discuss! 


The Ghost in the Pipeline: Restarting the Dialogue with Prospective Donors Who Go Radio Silent

Presenters: Lynn Swain, Director of Development, Cornell Botanic Gardens; Elizabeth Burnett, Senior Consultant, Plus Delta Partners 

Many fundraisers have the experience of a prospective donor suddenly going radio silent or ceasing to respond to the gift officer's communication. Often this occurs at precisely the wrong moment, e.g., the prospect was going to review a proposal or agree to an important next step. This circumstance may be complicated by the COVID pandemic, when uncertainties have multiplied and meeting in person or running into one another at an event is no longer possible. Gift officers reach an impasse, uncertain what to do next. In this session, we will discuss why this scenario may occur, separating what is and is not within the gift officer’s control and offering options and next steps. Specific scenarios will be considered, and attendees will leave the session with actionable, proven tools to apply to their own fundraising work.  

Join a ROUNDTABLE at 3:30 PM and discuss! 



Tribute and Memorial Giving Programs to Grow Your Annual Fund 

Presenters: Robert Price, Manager of Annual Giving, Denver Botanic Gardens; Kelsey Jaffer, Associate Director of Philanthropy, Bok Tower Gardens 

Many, if not most gardens offer ways for the public to celebrate, commemorate, or remember loved ones with unique and meaningful tribute gift opportunities. Presenters from Denver Botanic Gardens and Bok Tower Gardens will discuss personal experiences of what has and hasn't worked for them including plaques, pavers, trees, dedicated tribute funds, special projects and more. They'll also share the process of developing programs and policies that set donor expectations and when it’s okay to make exceptions. 

Join a ROUNDTABLE at 3:30 PM and discuss! 


Growing Houston’s Garden: A Capital Campaign Fundraising Success Story 

Presenter: Laura A Easton, LMSW, CFRE, Vice President of Development & Membership, Houston Botanic Garden 

As a start-up organization (with no track record in operations or fundraising) – a group of passionate, dedicated volunteers and staff made a visionary founder’s dream come true: build a world-class botanic garden in the most diverse and fourth largest city in the US. Five and a half years and $38.2M later, phase I of the Houston Botanic Garden opened in fall 2020 on schedule. What did the Garden do right? How will it prepare for Phase II? Session will include lessons learned from challenges and adaptable strategies for capital campaigns.  

Join a ROUNDTABLE at 3:30 PM and discuss! 


Join a breakout room for a 40-minute moderated deep-dive networking session with your fellow attendees to explore a variety of development and membership issues. 


Building Community Connections Through Access Opportunities  

Presenter: Rachel Vaught, Member Relations Manager, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens 

As gardens continue to grow their visitation, exhibitions and programming, it can be challenging to balance sustainable revenue streams with accessibility for income qualified audiences. This session highlights specific examples with data and provides insight on Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens' successes and shortcomings thus far. Data from credible sources will illustrate why intentional and targeted access efforts are important for longevity and the success of membership and development programs. 


Why Members are Critical for Your Success in a Pandemic-Impacted World  

Presenter: Colleen Dilenschneider, IMPACT Research 

Public gardens have felt the impact of the global pandemic in many ways, but this challenging time has highlighted opportunities as well. Research reveals the importance of a public garden’s biggest advocates – its members. Member engagement was increasing in importance even before the pandemic, and it’s only grown more crucial now as entities consider how to make every pair of feet in the door count. In this presentation, Colleen Dilenschneider, Chief Market Engagement Officer of IMPACTS Experience and author of the popular website for cultural executives Know Your Own Bone, will show you the math on why members are particularly critical for public gardens right now. Just how monetarily valuable are members? Are members approaching the pandemic differently? Are they more or less likely to endorse a visit to others than they were before the pandemic? How can we motivate them to renew? This presentation will answer these questions by sharing data to help you effectively engage these advocates in a pandemic-impacted world. 

We are grateful to Bok Tower Gardens for making Ms. Dilenschneider’s appearance possible. 

5:45 – 6:00 PM WRAP UP and TAKEAWAYS