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Cleveland Botanical Garden

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Botanical Gardens & Arboreta, Environment

Mission: Cleveland botanical garden cultivates an enduring connection between plants and people so vibrant green communities will flourish and sustain life.

Programs: Cleveland botanical garden (the garden) is an ever-changing urban escape where guests find enrichment and inspiration through fabulous gardens, an exotic glasshouse and enchanting events. The garden makes its community greener and healthier by growing young lives and restoring land throughout cleveland. Guests of the garden can experience its 20 exquisite specialty gardens and exotic indoor biomes all year long. Founded in 1930 as the garden center of cleveland, the garden has evolved into a community treasure. Records were set for the garden in 2013, with annual attendance reaching an all time high of 188,000, marking a 17 percent increase over the prior year's then-record attendance of 160,000. Likewise, membership to the garden in 2013 hit an all-time high of more than 8,000 northeast ohio households. Special events and popular programs such as the garden's holiday celebration, glow, and big spring spectacular, along with related marketing efforts and outreach initiatives, contributed to the significant increases in attendance and membership. The glow holiday celebration attracted more than 42,000 people to the garden over a 5-week period, marking a 10 percent jump over the prior year's record attendance of 38,000 guests. Other retrun events such as orchid mania, gourmets in the garden and te autumn ripe! Fest also attracted impressive crowds. Education efforts in 2013 remained at the root of the garden's mission, whether it involves standards-based plant science curriculum taught annually to more than 13,000 school children, or a particular guest finding one more way to garden sustainably in his own backyard. Applied research and exploration keeps the garden relevant. The garden's experts are trusted and important resources on issues related to conserving the environment, plant-based health and nutrition, plant science and best horticultural practices for the home and community at large. The garden's community involvement extends beyond its 10 acres in university circle into city neighborhoods through its green corps and applied-research programs. Since 1996, green corps has enlightened area teens by offering them hands-on urban-agriculture experiences; and green corps expanded in 2013 to bring "living classrooms" to local schools in cleveland through the installation of schoolyard gardens. The applied researc program, largely funded through grants, continued to lead regional efforts to address issues of vacant urban land and community greening. In late 2013, the garden's leadership began exploring opportunities to integrate with another organization as a way to ensure its vibrant future for generations to come. In june 2014, the garden anounced it was in talks to integrate with another northeast ohio not-for-profit with a similar mission.

arts, culture & humanities program, general & other gardens

education, general & other education

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Client Served

Rating: 1

I happened to look at the reviews for the Botanical Garden and noted that one indicated the highest level and another indicated the lowest. in ratings. I thought that very interesting; usually the result of a disgruntled visitor or employee.

However, when I reviewed the file on Guidestar; the reviews submitted were even more interesting. When exploring the 990s for 2011 and 2012, it seems the Botanical Garden Board of Trustees has totally ignored their fiduciary responsibility for the fiscal viability of this historical and important local organization.

In 2011, the 990 for the Botanical Garden indicated a loss of almost $1 million dollars in their operating budget. More striking, was a loss of more than $2 million in 2012. Yet, when one reviews the compensation for highest paid employees - the Executive Director earned a salary of $117,287 in 2011 with an increase of 16% in 2012 to $136,074. How does that compute; a small nonprofit organization loses millions - more than $3 million in just 2 years on a budget of from $6 to 7 million and yet, compensates its senior executive with an increase of 16% from 2011 to 2012 - and, when customarily compensation increases in today's economic climate are from 1 - 3%.

This kind of behavior on the part of a governing body is unconscionable. This is an organization that relies upon our tax dollars, through the county Arts Tax, in part, to sustain its operations. The Board, as well as their highly paid Executive Director have clearly thumbed their collective noses at the tax payors and most importantly, at the organization for which they were appointed to lead and maintain. Shame!

Review from Guidestar


Rating: 5

The Botanical Gardens is a very great organization and I enjoyed being there. The Gardens are beautiful and it was fun and healthy to be around nature. Botanical Gardens focuses on their customer service and takes matters like that seriously. Everyone was very friendly and they never failed to put a smile on my face.


General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

This is an institution that epitomizes how non-profit organizations generate negative stereotypes for the sector. The compensation allocated to the 4 top employees indicates salaries that represent more than 13.2% of the operating budget. Typically the benchmark for non-profits is 12% of the operating budget allocated to the full/overall administration of the organization, but 13.2% to senior staff salaries is unconscionable.

One must wonder where is the Board in its fudiciary responsibility of an organization that is clearly experiencing financial difficulties, but continues to fund individual staff members rather than focus its resources on the mission and operations of a historical organization such as this.

Review from Guidestar