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Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Challenge.

Recognized globally as a top zoo, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium boasts a rich history spanning over 95 years, attracting families and animal lovers worldwide. In 2016, the Zoo introduced an ambitious master plan aimed at enhancing its already stellar reputation. This extensive vision included significant upgrades and new habitats amounting to over $125 million. While a tax levy would cover most of these developments, a substantial philanthropic target was set. Cramer & Associates carried out a feasibility study to assess this goal and provide counsel for the Zoo’s campaign.

The Strategy.

The study revealed a few areas that needed to be addressed:

  1. The Zoo had long been on the frontlines of worldwide animal conservation, but many key prospective donors and the general public were not aware their efforts to prioritize this important issue.
  2. Since 1985 the Zoo has been supported in part through a tax levy, but many of the taxpayers supporting the Zoo could not afford to visit. The need to make the Zoo more accessible rose up as a key priority for many interviewees, even more so than the creation of new habitats and exhibits.
  3. Internally, the Zoo’s fundraising teams were operating in silos with no united goal or direction for what annual and campaign philanthropic dollars would ultimately support.


Working alongside the Zoo’s development team, Cramer made the recommendation to launch a comprehensive, three-phased, $38 million campaign to support the Zoo’s master plan capital projects, while also focusing on donors’ passion areas of conservation, education, and access.


This comprehensive, phased approach, coupled with creative commemorative opportunities and intimate events to engage and celebrate donors, ushered the Zoo forward on the path for a successful, legacy-level campaign.

Project Facts

Philanthropic Goal
$ 0 Million
Raised to Date (May 2024)
$ 0 Million
0 Year
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Result.

The Connecting People and Wildlife campaign launched in 2017 and will run through 2025. The Zoo’s development teams are now working collectively toward unified goals and a vision set forth by the campaign. The ongoing enhancements being made to the Zoo will ensure that it is primed to celebrate its enduring status as one of the best zoos in the world with its centennial anniversary in 2027.

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