Annual Report

Annual Report

Annual Report

A Message from the Chairman of the Board and the President & CEO


 

Nature is in demand, and we are ready to meet the moment.

People come to us as a place to unwind, to walk in the shade of a sturdy oak, to catch the fragrant double bloom of a peony. In 2021, as COVID-19 continued to affect our daily lives, the Chicago Botanic Garden hosted 1.1 million visits—the second highest attendance in our history.

The Garden continues to grow, and we need the financial foundation and infrastructure to meet growing public demands and expectations. In February 2022, we began charging a per-person admission fee for nonmembers. At the same time, we broke ground on a new project that will create a much-improved visitor experience. In front of the Visitor Center, you’ll see that a new Welcome Plaza is taking shape. By the end of 2022, we’ll have a visitor friendly and traffic-free entry plaza, a new lakeside Stone Family Picnic Glade, and new electric trams.

We continue to build on the momentum of 2021, which launched us back on the road to recovery from the ongoing global pandemic. Thanks to the remarkable efforts of our team, raised revenue in 2021 totaled $14.9 million in unrestricted donations, memberships, tributes, and fundraising events, a 30 percent increase over 2020. Our holiday event Lightscape, along with the Lightscape Preview fund-raising event, was a great success. Windy City Harvest, our urban agriculture program, distributed more than 16,000 VeggieRx boxes of free fruits and vegetables to more than 2,000 families who are food insecure—more than double the impact of the previous year.

We continue to protect natural areas and green space so people, and our planet, can thrive. With our partner, the Forest Preserves of Cook County, we worked on conservation and restoration projects and community engagement programs. And on Earth Day, the Obama Foundation announced its partnership with the Garden to work on the design and operation of its fruit and vegetable garden, as well as the overall design of the Obama Presidential Center landscape in Jackson Park.

This year, we have much to look forward to, including the Garden’s 50th anniversary celebration. Flourish: The Garden at 50 will be thought-provoking and joyous. Most of all, the celebration allows us to show our gratitude to you for five decades of extraordinary growth. Because of you, the Garden has never seemed more full of life, full of possibilities.

Jean M. Franczyk, President & CEO and Michael R. Zimmerman, Chair of the Board

Michael R. Zimmerman, Chair of the Board and Jean M. Franczyk, President & CEO

This year, we have much to look forward to, including the Garden’s 50th anniversary celebration. Flourish: The Garden at 50 will be thought-provoking and joyous. Most of all, the celebration allows us to show our gratitude to you for five decades of extraordinary growth. Because of you, the Garden has never seemed more full of life, full of possibilities.

 

We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life.