The largest grant award in Foundation history was made in 1999, when a $2 million gift established an educational endowment at the newly renamed Rosamond Gifford Zoo. So we were interested when Zoo officials approached us with a need for online sales capability. Over the years the Zoo’s activities, from children’s parties to major fundraisers, as well as membership, had increased while their website capabilities had stayed the same. The Foundation, along with others in the community, agreed that this capacity needed to be built. A grant of $15,000 went towards the development of an e-commerce solution – online membership, event sales, more effective linkage with donors and a membership database.
But the story doesn’t end there. Yes, the new online purchase software resulted in some increased efficiencies and sales. Yes, now fund raising events are easier to access and often sellout in advance. But there was an added benefit brought about by the process itself. Our reporting process encourages organizations to share not only successes but also obstacles – but more valuably we ask “what did you learn?” As they researched an e-commerce solution the Zoo created an IT committee of outside experts who guided the RFP and selection process; this committee remains as a resource to the organization. The Foundation considers the gain in knowledge, the uses to which the Zoo put this knowledge, and the honest assessment of the process to be one of the more rewarding aspects of this grant.
Learn more about the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at their site http://www.rosamondgiffordzoo.org/