The San Antonio Zoo

The Problem: The San Antonio Zoo, dedicated to saving wildlife and wild places, provides quality family recreation and public education while going beyond the care, exhibition, and breeding of exotic creatures. It strives to be a comprehensive center for conservation and a leader in global efforts to preserve threatened wildlife.

Its challenge was to build a more robust giving program from diverse sources and become less dependent on membership income and special events.  Because The Zoo is a membership organization with a constant positive cash flow from its daily attendance figures, it had relied at times on this source of income to pay for exhibits that have not been fully funded through charitable gifts, and had become overly dependent on special event revenue. That’s where Lee+ Associates stepped in to help.

The Solution: The San Antonio Zoo hired Lee+ Associates to conduct a development assessment to help it create a more diversified revenue stream and to equip it with best practices, policies and procedures to ensure its fundraising stability.

Lee+ Associates created a strategic development plan and led the staff and board through an analysis of three years of giving, reviewing the internal and external environment, creating the goals and objectives of the strategic plan for growth, shaping the projected budget required to get there, and producing a detailed annual development plan to boost desired results. Lee+ Associates recommended diversifying the revenue stream, diversifying the makeup of the Board of Directors, and encouraging it to take a greater role in fundraising.

What Lee+ Associates delivered:
• a more focused development strategy
• an annual development calendar, including more donor visits and fewer events
• three years of reasonable goals and projections from a diverse revenue stream
• a renewed focus on individual, corporate and foundation stewardship
• more effective use of staff resources

The Results: The San Antonio Zoo’s new Executive Director and Board members took Lee+ Associates’ assessment and planning tools and used them to broaden its donor base and to raise more money, especially from individual donors.  Marion Lee said, “Working with an organization to help it boost its revenues, develop long-term funding strategies, and focus on donors are some of the ways we measure success.”   Additionally, The Zoo was better able to manage its staff resources more effectively, work according to well-established policies and procedures, and keep its focus on donors.  “The fact our development assessment achieved immediate results made it successful.”