THE GARDEN I.D.E.A.L.

Your Association’s 2024 Strategic Plan is the American Public Gardens Association’s most ambitious roadmap to date, and not a moment too soon.

Garden I.D.E.A.L. is a journey towards greatness we plan to take with you, our institutional, individual and industry partners, over the next 5 years.

Within this Plan you will find a trajectory of operational growth and expansion, providing more member resources and engagement opportunities. Together we will grow capacity for building garden, plant and personal resilience. And in all we do, we will put inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) principles into practice.

Perhaps most importantly, we will be positioning how the Association, and the public horticulture industry, will be leading global change agents now and in the years to come. Which is why we’ve added the big “L” to The Garden I.D.E.A.L., for Leadership.

For there is no better time for public gardens to be at the forefront of our most critical global conversations – to be examples and resources for our communities, to raise our collective voice, and to lead the way.

The Holden Arboretum

Grow and nurture relationships with members by offering services and resources that anticipate and fulfill their needs.

Objective 1A

Attract and Engage Diverse Membership: Grow a healthy and diverse membership by attracting new members and nurturing existing ones.

  • Implement annual acquisition campaign through multi-channel efforts.
  • Create and execute a systematized ongoing member communications plan for members.
  • Enhance and diversify member communication channels.
  • Demonstrate member value/ROI to Institutional Members through published reports and refined member engagement metrics.
  • Expand awards and recognition programs to increase member engagement and help build pride, standing and confidence among member gardens and individuals.
  • Steward Entry Level Membership and analyze data to determine growth and guide outreach opportunities that result in greater access to membership benefits.

Objective 1B

Expand and Enhance Member Benefits and Resources: Grow the portfolio of member benefits and resources.

  • Conduct member satisfaction surveys by 2024 to ascertain quality, desirability, and utility of member benefits.
  • Develop measurements of success to evaluate new and ongoing benefits and resources.
  • Re-evaluate corporate membership offerings and communications to build corporate member relationships.
  • Strengthen Library and Media Center offerings by increasing member search access and contributions, while maintaining a strong vetting process for quality of all holdings.

Objective 1C

Synergize Signature Programs: Identify opportunities to link, improve, and better integrate programs and related communication.

  • Develop collective metrics that establish the purpose for collaborative program impacts.
  • Analyze and increase the efficiency and consistency of existing messages and communication about programs.
  • Create opportunities to partner with peer national and international group(s) to share best practices.
  • Invest appropriately to increase access to programs and core services.
  • Create new synergistic messages that resonate with members.

Objective 1D

Cultivate Strategic Partners: Cultivate and strengthen innovative strategic partnerships and other relationships to advance the Association and its members.

  • Define strategic partnerships criteria and guidelines to allow for creativity and entrepreneurship in seizing unique opportunities.
  • Cultivate existing and potential governmental partners and relationships to leverage resources benefiting Association core programs and members.
  • Evaluate and evolve existing partners and sponsors into strategic partner framework.
  • Prioritize and pursue new partnerships, sponsorships and alliances with NPOs, for-profit corporations, and peer organizations.
Offer quality educational resources and exemplary professional development opportunities to a diverse membership. 

Objective 2A

Expand Access: Expand and create diverse delivery channels to programs and resources that further members’ professional development.

  • Expand scholarship opportunities to increase access for more members to advance their professional development.
  • Identify content gaps that key programs could uniquely and critically fill.
  • Increase access to professional development opportunities for the broadest possible member audience, through geographic, technological, messaging, or other means.
  • Explore possibility of creating regional/national programming to provide content and promote programs at member gardens.
  • Ensure events and services are accessible to gardens and members, recognizing their unique and critical needs.

Objective 2B

Utilize and Create Professional Development Opportunities That Promote Industry Talent to Future Leadership Roles

  • Cultivate innovative and inclusive approaches for leadership development.
  • Partner with others to promote entry into industry pipeline by talented and diverse individuals.
  • Continue and expand peer mentoring opportunities.
  • Encourage intentional efforts to embrace IDEA principles and increase opportunities for professional advancement.
  • Identify, organize, and promote resources specific to emerging professionals.

Objective 2C

Promote Connections: Provide suite of opportunities for diverse members to engage, serve, and build professional relationships.

  • Provide resources and representation at regional and other garden collaboration events.
  • Seek opportunities to strengthen and synergize communities so that members engage with greater frequency and ease.
  • Encourage communities to seek authentic, productive, durable projects and to participate in knowledge sharing year-round.
  • Refine and create new ways for community resources to be readily accessible and usable by a diverse membership.
Lead the promotion of public gardens as cornerstones for resilient, healthy communities. Build capacity and enhance the ability to extol how their work provides solutions to local and global challenges.

Objective 3A

Build Resilience: Galvanize gardens to proactively build and sustain resilience while navigating change.

  • Provide disaster preparedness and response resources, connecting gardens to a peer support network.
  • Deliver resources that help member gardens grow as leaders in operational sustainability.
  • Provide tools that help gardens use mission-balanced, sustainable approaches to achieve financial stability and maintain community relevancy against inevitable demographic, and/or market-driven changes.
  • Facilitate methods for gardens to safeguard and proactively plan for the long-term health of their plant collections.

Objective 3B

Foster the Value of Public Gardens: Benchmark, articulate, and advocate the value of public gardens as an influential voice for the industry. Continue to enhance the Association’s outward communications to fulfill its mission and vision.

  • Leverage Board leaders to serve as key ambassadors.
  • Leverage the potential of the Association’s annual celebration of public gardens to amplify the Association’s external voice to new audiences and potential stakeholders.
  • Articulate and position the external voice of the Association and public gardens by developing and implementing annual communication and leadership plans.
  • Boost earned and owned media hits that favorably position the Association and its members as leaders.
  • Continue to benchmark the value of public gardens as tools for members to track and advocate for their progress.
  • Use independently measurable criteria (e.g. by Small, Medium, and Large gardens) to evaluate growth and change.
  • Develop communication reference tools which give Association members specific talking points about the role and value of public gardens and customizable messages for their individual needs.
  • Evolve website to promote value of Association and public gardens externally to both existing and potential stakeholders.
  • Evaluate capacity to develop summary reports and white papers available to public to position the Association as an authority and voice for public gardens.
  • Explore options to offer certification and other avenues to recognize garden achievements.

Continue pursuit of organizational excellence and a business model that promotes sustainability, resilience, and core IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and access) principles.

Objective 4A

Increase Financial Strength: Diversify and increase funding while seeking efficiencies and building financial reserves to ensure organizational sustainability.

  • Develop an organizational growth plan to achieve $5 million in annual revenue by 2025.
  • Establish an endowment fund and draft menu of gift opportunities and policies for acceptance and recognition.
  • Convene an ad hoc earned revenue work group to explore and pursue potential opportunities.
  • Maintain cash reserves to cover 6 months of operational expenses.
  • Significantly strengthen fundraising and development program.
  • Integrate fundraising management database solutions to manage activities.

Objective 4B

Foster Service-Oriented Workplace Culture: Foster a positive, service-oriented workplace culture that values and develops its people and advances IDEA principles in all operations.

  • Develop a strategic leadership development plan/succession planning framework.
  • Maintain, communicate, and enhance the diverse suite of member and staff talent for service among the Board, Staff, Committees and Communities of the Association.
  • Develop a five-year staffing plan that includes an assessment of needs, resources, and gaps.
  • Continue to provide training and professional development opportunities that reward staff and the Association with new skills and abilities.
  • Continue to reflect the Association’s emphasis on IDEA principles in recruiting, retaining, and encouraging staff to grow and succeed.

Objective 4C

Enhance Governance: Follow best practices for board governance and succession to recruit, engage, and develop qualified, diverse board members that reflect the Association.

  • Recruit, develop, and maintain a highly qualified, engaged, and diverse Board of Directors.
  • Better leverage current board members and board alumni to support the organization’s fundraising, awareness, and advocacy efforts.
  • Participate in an effort to create core organizational values and integrate them into all aspects of the Association.

Objective 4D

Improve Technology and Data: Ensure efficient use of technology in all operations.

  • Conduct annual assessment of the organization’s technology needs and strategically align it with the organization’s budgeting processes whenever possible.
  • Use technology to improve our staff’s reach with members to provide more access to tools, resources and programs.
  • Develop procedures to ensure data accuracy regarding member information.
  • Provide ongoing technology training for staff and equip them with appropriate tools and software.