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State Botanical Garden Strategic Plan




To develop the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, the Director of the State Botanical Garden along with the Garden’s Board of Advisors convened a group of six board members, three Friends of the Garden executive committee members, and nine garden management staff to serve as the core planning group with the responsibility of reviewing data and determining key action steps for the strategic plan.Three faculty members from the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, skilled in leading strategic planning efforts, were contracted to design and facilitate the planning process. A garden staff member was assigned to manage internal logistics, maintain records, and draft the final document.

To collect as much information as possible for the strategic plan, the core planning and facilitation teams developed a comprehensive agenda that included efforts to interview numerous stakeholders and partners. From September 2017 to January 2018, the planning and facilitation teams conducted the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis, by first conducting a focus session with the core planning group. Next, they interviewed 18 stakeholders, representing the UGA campus, Athens community and external clients and partners. They then facilitated three focus group sessions with 94 participants from the garden’s board of advisors, Friends of the Garden board, garden staff and students. As the final step of the SWOT analysis, they conducted a 14-person focus group at the Public Service & Outreach unit director’s meeting, where they sought input from the leaders of PSO at UGA. In all, over 120 people participated in offering input for the strategic plan.


From the SWOT analysis, seven major themes emerged and were presented to the director and core planning group: Improve visibility, marketing, and promotion strategies. Strengthen academic connections with UGA. Develop and strengthen partnerships and collaborations. Generate revenue for stability and growth. Increase and enhance community outreach. Increase and diversify educational offerings. Address infrastructure issues.

The core planning group reviewed the recommendations from the SWOT analysis, and through collaborative planning, they determined four key issues that became the strategic objectives. After identifying the four strategic objectives, they developed action steps and tasks as well as accountability measures and success indicators.


The director and core planning group will continue working with all employees of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia to achieve the strategic objectives. Numerous action steps are included in the plan, and goals have been developed that require sustained and concentrated efforts. Departmental plans will be developed by each of the garden’s operational units to define action items and time lines to focus efforts toward the major goals. The director and the garden’s management team will meet quarterly to assess and monitor progress and make adjustments as necessary. Annually, progress reports will be made to PSO leadership, the core planning team, the board of advisors, and the Friends of the Garden board.

In developing the work plans for the final document, four members of the core planning group volunteered to lead the creative efforts to update and revise the State Botanical Garden’s vision, mission, and core values statements. They examined and discussed the Garden’s mission as a Public Service and Outreach unit, and after several collaborative meetings, they presented their work to the entire core planning group for feedback. As a group, they made final edits and achieved consensus around the following statements:


To be a garden that celebrates the best in southern horticulture, natural heritage, and culture throughexcellence in gardening displays and practices, and stewardship of healthy natural eco-systems.


As a unit of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia, the State Botanical Gardenof Georgia creates and nurtures an environment for learning, inspiration and engagement throughhorticulture, conservation, science based programs and lasting partnerships.


Education – As part of the University of Georgia, education is at the heart of all we do. We create an environment that stimulates and encourages learning at all ages and stages of life through hands-on experiential learning. Inspiration – Our garden must engage, nurture and lift our spirits, touch hearts and stimulate our thinking. Integrity – We act ethically and with respect in fulfillment of our mission and in our relationships with students, staff, volunteers, visitors and all members of our community. Diversity – Our mission is best advanced by contributions of people from widely diverse backgrounds, experiences and identities. Accessibility – Our garden must be accessible to all people regardless of age or ability. Stewardship – We conserve endangered species, restore natural ecosystems, and model best practices in environmental sustainability for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. Partnership – Our mission can only be achieved through strong and longlasting partnerships locally, throughout the state, nationally and internationally.


Four strategic objectives are outlined in the State Botanical Garden’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan. All four are interdependent, and each is of utmost importance. Following each strategic objective are descriptive action steps and tasks along with the accountability measures and success indicators by which actions will be measured for success.

Strategic Objective I emphasizes a core value of the botanical garden to collaborate and partner with others on campus, in the local community, and beyond. Recognizing the importance of communication in today’s environment, Strategic Objective II outlines how the botanical garden plans to define who we are and to tell our story. Strategic Objective III focuses on improving garden infrastructure to meet the needs of our visitors, volunteers, students, and staff. Finally, recognizing that continual growth and improvement requires adequate financial resources, Strategic Objective IV addresses expanding and diversifying revenue sources for the garden.



Goal: Enhance and Create Opportunities for Partnership and Outreach

Strategy 1: Evaluate and Strengthen Existing Partnerships Establish criteria for success for each existing partnership. Evaluate existing partnerships against the success criteria. Strengthen existing partnerships through clearly defined roles and responsibilities and communication of success criteria. Determine opportunities to enhance, modify or restructure existing partnerships to reach mutually beneficial objectives.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Review all existing partnerships and determine successful outcomes by January 2019.

• Connect with partners to review existing objectives and identify opportunities to enhance current partnerships by July 2019.

• Evaluate partnerships for which a MOU/MOA is appropriate and establish MOU/MOA for each relevant partnership by October 2019.

• Review MOU/MOA regularly for all partnerships.

Strategy 2: Develop New Partnerships Identify gaps and areas of need for new partnerships. Develop criteria for success for each new partnership. Identify potential new partners with similar objectives. Establish relationships and formalize new partnership objectives. Evaluate and continually improve relationships.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Identify gaps and establish criteria by January 2019.

• Establish and implement four to six new partnerships across all departments by July 2022.

• Connect with partners annually to review progress and make improvements.

Strategy 3: Increase and Enhance Partnerships with UGA Departments Review existing partnerships with UGA departments (see strategy 1). Identify new academic opportunities for students at the garden. Identify outreach opportunities with other PSO units. Establish relationships and formalize new partnership objectives. Evaluate and continually improve relationships.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Review all existing partnerships and determine successful outcomes by January 2019.

• Connect with partners to review existing objectives and identify opportunities to enhance current partnerships by July 2019.

• Create list of academic outreach opportunities for students, faculty and staff and communicate opportunities to UGA departments and units by July 2019.

• Establish and implement three to five new education and conservation partnerships across all departments by July 2022.

• Connect with partners annually to review progress and make improvements.


COMMUNICATION AND MARKETINGGoal: Increase Visibility and Impact of Garden Communications

Strategy 1: Establish the Garden Brand Review UGA and PSO strategic objectives and marketing strategies. Identify signature programs and events that will showcase the garden’s unique advantages and expertise. Increase marketing efforts for signature programs and target key audiences. Perform market analysis to review impact of targeted branding efforts.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Form committee to identify signature programs and events that highlight the garden and align with UGA/PSO strategic objectives by October 2018.

• Create annual marketing strategies (including budget) for signature programs.

• Perform surveys of visitors and participants to evaluate impact of marketing efforts by January 2020 and annually thereafter.

Strategy 2: Increase Awareness of the Garden’s Impact Establish consistent and concise information related to garden programs and impacts. Empower garden stakeholders to share accomplishments and impacts with broader audiences. Define and refine use of social media and traditional media outlets for sharing garden news.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Develop written talking points to share with garden stakeholders (board of advisors, Friends of the Garden board, staff, and administration) by January 2019.

• Develop "elevator speech" (30 seconds to 1 minute).

• Develop conversation speech (5-8 minutes).

• Develop presentation (30-60 minutes).

• Develop annual marketing plans for social media and advertising that highlight signature programs and impacts.

Strategy 3: Identify and Target Key Audiences Identify primary and secondary audiences for each department/area of the garden. Develop marketing strategies to target specifically identified audiences. Review attendance, registrations and visitors to determine effectiveness of targeted marketing efforts. Align master calendar for programs and events to attract key audiences. Increase student visitation at the garden.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Identify key audiences by January 2019 and review annually for shifts in priorities.

• Develop marketing plans for reaching identified audiences annually.

• Annually evaluate events to ensure they align with marketing efforts.

• Create events and opportunities specifically targeted for students by July 2019.



Goal: Invest in and Enhance Infrastructure, Displays and Programs

Strategy 1: Assess, Identify and Pursue Opportunities to Improve and Maintain

FacilitiesAssess current physical infrastructure and identify areas for improvement.Identify infrastructure enhancement projects.Prioritize areas of need and improvement and create plan forimplementation.Execute infrastructure improvement plan.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Assess and prioritize all current facilities and grounds infrastructure needsby July 2019.

• Annually review plan for new areas of need and for expected progression.

Strategy 2: Assess, Identify and Pursue Opportunities to

Enhance and Maintain DisplaysAssess current garden displays and identify areas forenhancement.Create signature displays that will attract audiences.Review needs to maintain and continually improve signaturedisplays.Improve and coordinate signage to create cohesiveness andimprove wayfinding.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Assess and prioritize all current display garden needs by July 2019.

• Identify signature display opportunities by July 2019.

• Implementation of one to two new signature displays by July 2021.

• Replace Garden signage to create cohesiveness and improve wayfinding throughout the garden by July 2022.

Strategy 3: Assess, Identify and Pursue Opportunities to Enhance Programing Review current portfolio of programs/events and determine viability of all programs. Review current and future spaces that support programing. Create new programs that maximize utilization of garden spaces. Leverage programing to develop partnerships and attract audiences.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Assess current program portfolio and retire outdated and underperforming programs by January 2019.

• Create one or two new programs that utilize different garden spaces and target specific audiences by January 2020. Children’s Garden Program Horticulture Program

• Create one to two programs that integrate new partners by July 2022.



Goal: Increase and Diversify Revenue Sources for Long-Term Sustainability

Strategy 1: Increase Earned Revenue Increase earned revenue from rentals, tours, sales and registrations. Evaluate and update all pricing for garden offerings. Increase contract and grant income.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Evaluate and update pricing for rentals and programing by January 2019.

• Implement online sales of gift shop items by July 2019.

• Include tours in annual marketing strategies.

• Apply for a minimum of two grants annually beginning July 2018.

• Increase total earned revenue by three to five percent annually and by 20 percent by 2023.

Strategy 2: Increase Unrestricted Giving Leverage annual appeal to support unrestricted projects. Increase visibility and number of opportunities to give on garden website. Increase number of donation boxes and suggested amount of donation. Create more “How your Support Helps” signage and marketing.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Identify specific projects for the annual appeal to support by October 2018 and update annually.

• Update garden website and include “Would you like to donate?” options on all registration pages by October 2018.

• Add donation boxes to strategic locations at the Garden by January 2019. Children’s Garden Main trail head

• Increase unrestricted giving by three to five percent annually.

Strategy 3: Increase Endowment Giving Focus Gardens of the World Ball on endowment contributions. Leverage garden leadership to cultivate and enrich donor pool. Create fundraising events to support specific needs. Coordinate efforts with PSO Senior director of development to connect donors with garden programs and priorities.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Commitment by the board of advisors to focus Gardens of the World Ball proceeds to the garden's endowments (general, horticulture, and conservation) through 2023.

• Members of garden leadership (board of advisors, Friends of the Garden board, garden management) to participate in donor meetings on a monthly basis beginning January 2019.

• Hold one new fundraising event annually to attract diverse donor base and support ongoing project needs.

• Increase the total level of endowed funds by 50 percent by 2023.

Strategy 4: Increase Membership in the Friends of the Garden Review and update membership rates. Offer one-year family memberships to wedding rental clients. Create member-only events.

Accountability Measures and Success Indicators

• Review and update membership rates, benefits and levels by January 2019.

• Begin offering one-year family memberships to all wedding rental clients beginning in July 2018.

• Create one new member-only event to be held annually beginning in 2019.

• Increase family membership renewals by 10 percent by 2023.

State Botanical Garden of Georgiaat the University of Georgia

2450 South Milledge AvenueAthens, Georgia 30605


PHOTOGRAPHY: Shannah MontgomeryDESIGN: Lisa Nation