San Antonio Botanical Garden Strategic Plan - 2022-2026

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Strategic Plan 2022-2026

Letter from the Board President and CEO Great achievements begin with visionary ideas, dynamic leadership, and engaged collaborators galvanized by carefully crafted plans. Presented here, our new five-year strategic plan provides essential guidance that will lead the Botanical Garden from our current position of excellence to that of world-class status.

Our Plan Represents Community Love and devotion to the Garden runs deep throughout our community. In building the plan, we spent hours listening to key stakeholders to learn how integral and meaningful the Garden is to their lives. The strategic plan will guide decisions and efforts through 2026, making community engagement paramount to how we remain relevant to all people.

Building on Our Formidable History 2021 marks the Garden’s 41st anniversary of serving our community with incomparable experiences in nature and botanical beauty. With land gifted in 1899 from George W. Brackenridge, the Garden began operating in 1980 under a public/private partnership with the City of San Antonio. While blending historic sites with new gardens, including the recently completed eight-acre expansion, we have steadily grown into an extraordinary public garden with a robust array of relevant programming. As of 2019, we privatized the management of the garden, providing for greater agility to adapt and implement programs and policies that will strengthen the Garden’s future.

Significance of the Plan: Supporting Our Vision for the Future Our new strategic plan will help us achieve key goals — offering quality visitor experiences; bringing more adults, children, and families to nature; and increasing our relevance to the community by reflecting the interests of more diverse individuals. As we implement the plan over the next five years, we will open the gates of the Garden wide to achieve greater equity for community visitation and participation. The plan also provides a crucial roadmap to financial sustainability, protecting the health of our plants and facilities, expanding impactful programs, and ensuring a commitment to the highest standards for our organizational operations. Thank you for your support for this plan that heightens our bar for excellence and readies the Garden for our most pivotal achievements yet to come.

Karen Greenwood

Sabina Carr

2021 Board President

Chief Executive Officer

Table of Contents Strategic Planning Process


Mission, Vision, and Core Values


Strategic Priorities Summary


Strategic Priority 1


Strategic Priority 2


Strategic Priority 3


Horticulture, Collections, and Conservation

Audience and Community Engagement

Organizational Sustainability and Excellence



Strategic Planning Process The San Antonio Botanical Garden intentionally employed an inclusive strategic planning process throughout 2021. The effort was spearheaded by the Garden’s Board of Directors and senior leadership. The Long-Range Planning Committee, which consists of members of the Board of Directors and the Advisory Council, directed the effort. The Garden retained Gallagher Consulting Group Inc. (Gallagher) to facilitate the initiative. The process began with an environmental scan which included soliciting input from a variety of valued stakeholders. Gallagher conducted personal interviews with representatives from the Board of Directors, Advisory Council, donors, senior leadership, peers, and other external stakeholders. The firm also administered an online member survey which yielded 773 responses. This methodology was designed to ensure that all voices and perspectives were heard. The Board of Directors and senior leadership relied on the findings from the stakeholder research as they discussed and deliberated the path forward for the organization. Gallagher facilitated multiple planning sessions for the Long-Range Planning Committee, Executive Committee, the full Board of Directors, and senior leadership to set strategic direction. The result of the initiative is this plan, which will effectively guide the Garden for the next five years (2022-2026). The plan was reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors during the summer of 2021.



Enriching lives through plants and nature.


San Antonio Botanical Garden is a world-class garden recognized for outstanding horticulture displays, botanical diversity, education, conservation, and experiences that connect people to the natural world. The Garden embraces the sense of place that makes San Antonio unique.



Conservation We protect and preserve plants and habitats

Education We educate guests to enrich their lives and connection to plants

Inclusion We are a Garden for all and treat people with dignity and respect

Innovation We embrace bold creativity, change, and excellence

Stewardship We are socially, financially, and environmentally responsible







Strategic Priorities

Strategic Priority 1: Horticulture, Collections, and Conservation Demonstrate horticulture excellence by protecting and enhancing our diverse plant collections, actively participating in research and conservation, and by featuring compelling designs and displays that connect people to the plant world.

Strategic Priority 2: Audience and Community Engagement Ensure an extraordinary guest experience for all by delivering programs and classes that are meaningful and reflective of the community while increasing awareness and excitement for the Botanical Garden as a top ten cultural institution in San Antonio.

Strategic Priority 3: Organizational Sustainability and Excellence Diversify and increase funding while significantly building reserves to ensure organizational sustainability and growth and enhance organizational excellence through commitment to the highest standards for administrative practices and internal operations.


Strategic Priority 1 Horticulture, Collections, and Conservation

Demonstrate horticulture excellence by protecting and enhancing our diverse plant collections, actively participating in research and conservation, and by featuring compelling designs and displays that connect people to the plant world. Horticulture & Collections Objective A: Preserve and build upon botanical diversity via plant collections and evolving displays. Key tactics: •

Document and catalog current collection data using enhanced GIS capabilities.

Pursue national accreditation from the American Public Gardens Association for the native plant collection.

Commit to building plant conservation efforts through new staff, program development, and strong alliances and partnerships.

Objective B: Ensure that displays and designs engage guests and authentically convey their original design intent. Key tactics: •

Update and enhance more established gardens (i.e., Rose, Old-Fashion, Southwest Native) so they are consistent with the quality of newer gardens.

Present powerful flower and plant displays that evoke the “WOW factor” for guests.

Evaluate and determine the best use of conservatory exhibition space.

Continually evaluate the gardens to ensure quality and identify opportunities for fresh and exciting displays.

Honor a commitment to high quality design standards.

Objective C: Develop new long-range master plan. Key tactics:


Design and implement inclusive master planning process for the next 10-15 years.

Ensure adequate funding and input to realize master plan.


Conservation & Sustainability Objective A: Advance the Garden’s sustainability practices. Key tactics: •

Create and implement a formal sustainability plan.

Continue to enhance relationship with Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) and local conservation partners.

Conduct energy audits.

Conserve water by utilizing recycled water for the lake.

Evaluate waste generated by restaurant, events, and programs.

Purchase from green vendors when possible.

Objective B: Promote the Garden as a thought leader and community resource for information about plants and conservation. Key tactics: •

Share best practices, research, and information with the public.

Convene and collaborate with plant, conservation, and research groups.

Showcase talented and knowledgeable employees via speaking and media opportunities.



Strategic Priority 2 Audience and Community Engagement

Ensure an extraordinary guest experience for all by delivering programs and classes that are meaningful and reflective of the community while increasing awareness and excitement for the Botanical Garden as a top ten cultural institution in San Antonio.


Guest Experience Provide extraordinary guest experiences through world-class exhibitions, meaningful interpretation, facilities, education, programming, and hospitality. Objective A: Provide exceptional guest experience. Key tactics: •

Guarantee outstanding hospitality for each guest by ensuring all team members participate in guest experience training.

Strengthen current healthy volunteer/docent program.

Enhance guest wayfinding through orientation, digital/signage, onsite interaction, and ease of customer service transactions.

Objective B: Attract relevant exhibitions with broad appeal. Key tactics: •

Successfully create and/or attract major exhibitions, e.g., Frida Kahlo Oasis, Imaginary Worlds.

Establish and implement successful Lightscape annual holiday signature event.

Produce compelling seasonal floriculture exhibitions.

Objective C: Enhance on-site amenities for guest enjoyment. Key tactics: •

Leverage pop-up retail and food/beverage opportunities.

Evaluate and implement enhancements to the gift shop to generate more sales via smart merchandising and branded items.

Assess restaurant partnership to foster growth/expansion and increase profitability.

Objective D: Produce events that engage guests and beautifully showcase the gardens, grounds, and facilities. Key tactics: •

Explore potential new innovative and vibrant events that engage new and existing audiences.

Continue to produce events that engage patrons and convert more guests into members.


Education Offer mission-focused educational programs that promote understanding and appreciation of horticulture, botany, and the connections among people, plants, and nature. Objective A: Deliver an exciting and compelling continuum of learning opportunities for all demographics. Key tactics: •

Using industry best practices for each target audience, create program excellence standards with defined metrics to ensure that each program delivered is achieving the desired impact.

Offer robust school, family, and adult programming.

Build capacity via volunteers.

Conduct effective evaluations to gauge impact.

Ensure greater access to more school children throughout the city.

Objective B: Maximize and reimagine the use of facilities and grounds to provide optimal educational experiences. Key tactics: •

Identify and develop creative and relevant programming on all areas of the grounds.

Maximize use of space during peak times to engage more people effectively.

Objective C: Leverage community partnerships to enhance engagement. Key tactics:


Align with regional educational institutions.

Continue to evaluate current partnerships to ensure that they are advancing the organization’s mission.

Pursue new partnerships with Early Childhood programs, independent school districts, and the local military community to broaden and deepen educational experiences.

Staff works collaboratively to cultivate relationships with local and regional businesses to increase corporate sponsorships by 50% and provide volunteer opportunities to 100% of participating organizations by 2026.


Marketing and Brand Visibility Increase awareness for San Antonio Botanical Garden by elevating the brand and articulating the value proposition among target audiences to drive attendance, membership, and donor support. Objective A: Conduct consumer market study and organization brand refresh. Key tactics: •

Contract with expert vendor to complete consumer market study research to enable data-driven decisions.

Use results to develop and implement brand refresh.

Seed “comeback” messaging across all marketing channels to encourage repeat visitation.

Objective B: Develop and implement targeted outreach efforts to earn new and diverse audiences. Key tactics: •

Customize approach for audiences including younger generation, families with children, military, and underserved communities.

Expand geographic reach to include regional cities (e.g. Austin, Dallas, Houston, etc.).

Increase use of video across online platforms to effectively engage guests and encourage interactive communication methods.

Objective C: Cultivate strategic partnerships with influencers, peers, and other stakeholder groups to diversify and broaden the base of future friends and supporters. Key tactics:


Leverage relationships with regional cultural institutions, tourism groups, and economic development partners.

Continue collaborative partnership with the City of San Antonio.



Strategic Priority 3 Organizational Sustainability and Excellence

Financial Sustainability Diversify and increase funding while significantly building reserves to ensure organizational sustainability and growth. Objective A: Assess and achieve balanced and sustainable model of earned revenue, contributed revenue, and endowment income. Key tactics: •

Complete peer benchmarking study to gauge earned revenue potential.

Conduct feasibility study of San Antonio market to garner capacity for annual contributed income, endowment, and capital gifts.

Objective B: Create a culture of philanthropy across entire organization to increase development and fundraising capacity. Key tactics: •

Build and expand a major gifts program that broadens the base of prospects and donors.

Create a stewardship program that recognizes and appreciates donors.

Identify preparation for a Phase III capital campaign.

Objective C: Grow and diversify earned revenue streams. Key tactics: •

Increase total attendance year over year while focusing on paid visitation.

Grow membership by increasing on-site conversion and direct mail efforts.

Maximize use of The Betty Kelso Center and other facilities to boost rental income.

Increase the guest onsite spend.

Objective D: Increase endowment to a total of $25M and grow reserves to provide financial security and help mitigate risk. Key tactics:


Enhance planned giving efforts through the Cenizo Program.

Create a reserves fund with 6+ months of operating expenses.

Budget reserves year over year.





Organizational Excellence Ensure organizational excellence through commitment to the highest standards for administrative practices and internal operations. Objective A: Be a best place to work that attracts and retains quality talent who embrace the Garden’s mission and values. Key tactics: •

Conduct compensation and benefits review and benchmarking to ensure that the Garden is competitive in the market.

Demonstrate employee appreciation though recognition, gratitude events, and team building opportunities.

Provide professional development and training programs.

Objective B: Continue to evolve volunteer program to align with and support organizational growth. Key tactics: •

Clarify and document volunteer roles and opportunities.

Boost volunteer recognition.

Provide training to employees about volunteer relations.

Objective C: Optimize use of technology and data. Key tactics: •

Assess software needs and fill gaps including Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Point of Sale (POS), Donor & Member, Budgeting, and other.

Improve system integration among all functions.

Evaluate need for onsite technical capabilities.

Perform a cyber vulnerability assessment by 4Q 2023.

Increase data analytics to gain performance insight and to enhance reporting.

Expand digital web site and back of house capabilities.

Digitalize facilities when applicable to maximize efficiencies.

Objective D: Develop and document standard operating procedures (SOPs). Key tactics: •

Create ad hoc cross functional team to lead project.

Prioritize order of functions (e.g., safety, financial, crisis).



Objective E: Successfully manage and maintain facilities. Key tactics: •

Address aging facilities.

Maintain historic structures.

Enhance guest parking to accommodate increased visitation and sustain organization’s growth.

Improve lighting on grounds to ensure safety during evening events.

Assess office space needs for growth of organization.

Objective F: Create a disaster preparedness plan to effectively protect gardens, plants, and facilities. Key tactics: •

Implement a cross-functional effort to create plan using best practices among similar organizations.

Ensure that plan leverages weather events as opportunities for new designs.

Objective G: Evaluate and adopt an effective board governance model to support the organizational growth and strategic direction of the garden, recruit highly qualified and diverse board members, and implement a plan for leadership engagement, development, and succession. Key tactics:


Review best practices for non-profit governance.

Update bylaws to adopt governance structure and practices.

Conduct board assessment and identify engagement goals.

Clarify and communicate board roles and responsibilities.

Implement standard operating procedures for board nominations and workflow.

Long Range Planning Committee Jim Greenwood, Chair Karen Greenwood Erika Ivanyi Carlos Moreno Gregg Muenster Linde Murphy

Michael Swanson

San Antonio Botanical Garden Board Members 2021

Advisory Council Members

Karen Greenwood, President

Marline Carter Lawson

Julie Zacher, Vice President

Pat Deely

Omar Akhil Lauren Browning

Cindy Campbell

Sarah Cochran

Emily Knapp

Special Thanks

Andrew Labay Scott Litchke

Katherine Trumble

Gary Cox

Gabriel Durand-Hollis, Secretary

Sabina Carr, CEO

Sam Hogg

Kristen Casey Charlotte Creamer

Candace Andrews

Katie Erickson

Leslie Ausburn

Madison Marceau, Treasurer

Leadership Team

Michael Eason

Claire Alexander

Courtney Collins Roberto Espinosa Fern Lee “Missy” Finck Lou Celia Frost Magdalena Gaona Homer Garcia, Ex-officio Jim Greenwood Erika Ivanyi Cally Kothmann Shari Mao David Meyers Kristina Moore Carlos Moreno Gregg Muenster Belinda Nixon Bill Orr

Karen Dawson Joel Erben Mary Fisher Pamela Fitzsimons Howard Rob Holliday Estee Kellogg Barbara Kyse Susan Lane Jed Maebius Nancy Marion Joe McFarlane Annabelle McGee Susan Mengden Barbara Moss Linde Murphy Leslie Negley Jeff Rochelle William Scanlan Michael Swanson Donna Vaughan Bette Vexler Nancy Zachry

Janet Putman Dennis Quinn Allen Sikes Paula Stumberg John Troy Michael Wargovich Julie Wilkinson




555 Funston Place | San Antonio, TX 78209 |

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