Executive Update For You from Christine Conte

May 13, 2020

Dear Tohono Chul Family,

Are you ready for some good news? A glimmer of hope that we will not only endure this tragic pandemic together, but emerge even stronger?

Here are some reasons to be hopeful for Tohono Chul, for the community, and for you and your family:

1. Members. Over the last 5 years, Tohono Chul has grown from fewer than 5,500 to more than 6,700 member households. Since the closure on March 17th, you have been creating hope by renewing and upgrading your annual membership. AND adding generous gifts at an unprecedented rate!

2. Sonoran Spring Gala Gifts. When we had no choice but to cancel the annual Sonoran Spring Celebration that brings us together and provides revenue we were counting on to finish the year strong, you were there to help soften the blow. Over 80% of you who had already purchased tables or tickets converted them to charitable gifts. That resulted in $12,310—about 40% of anticipated revenue. 100% of those gifts will be directed to the matching Survive and Thrive fund.

3. Spring Plant Sale. Like the Sonoran Spring Gala, the March plant sale that follows is a joyful Tohono Chul event. It is critical to the annual budget. The viral pandemic made it impossible to hold this live market of succulents, cacti, trees and other beautiful flowering plants. To have done so would have jeopardized the safety and health of staff, volunteers and all who attend. Staff quickly rallied to create an online plant sale. Last week’s trial run produced valuable revenue of nearly $10,000. With a few days of retooling in between, another sale will launch May 11th.

The glass is half full for all of us. Neither the Gala nor the Plant sale revenue will approach half of last year. But buoyed by your understanding, generosity and support, we are facing this challenge and learning new skills that will better prepare us to serve you in the future.

4. Arizona Commission on the Arts Grant. Kudos to our Education and Philanthropy team—James, Jo, Angela and Nicole for earning a third $25,000 grant from this state agency for the arts. Among the things that distinguished the exhibits program at Tohono Chul is that it features more Arizona artists than any other arts venue in the state!

5. Federal Relief. We have received the federal disaster loan (PPP) related to COVID-19 that we applied for as soon as the opportunity became available. The loan provides limited funds–some for salaries and some for operating costs like utilities. The funding is only meant to provide some replacement of revenue and all must be used by June 30th. If all requirements are met, the loan may be fully forgiven.

6. Survive and Thrive Matching Fund. As promised in my last letter, I also have terrific news about the challenge presented by a very generous donor whose family foundation provided a $150,000 matching grant. I am happy to report that as of today, you have stepped up to make gifts that have reached nearly 90% of that goal! Those gifts include modest monthly gifts, one-time gifts of $1,200, and a few very generous 5 figure gifts—all directly helping Tohono Chul Survive and Thrive. Our hope is to secure another $50,000 matching gift to ensure greater financial grounding and security.

7. Your Stories. The stories you share continue to bring hope. Raise our spirits. And encourage us to face the next challenge at a time when grief and loss are all too present in our lives.

Below is an excerpt from just one of those stories:

…I was there a few times just before the closing and I wanted to let you know how much Michael and I relished being able to stroll around and savor the beauty. I had been in a full no weight bearing cast from November until end of February and was just learning to walk again so it was my first choice to enjoy. I could have cried with gratitude and appreciation for all the work you have masterminded to make this garden the treasure that it is today. Can’t wait to get back when the universe agrees.

Hope you and your loved ones are as safe and comfortable as possible.

With deep admiration for all that you do!

A n d r e a ~
Andrea S. Gould, Ph.D., ABPP”

Thank you Andrea and all of you for the hope you bring!

We are actively working on ways to reopen the grounds “when the universe agrees”. We will do so when we know we can provide the safety measures that you and the community deserve. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a recent feature on Tohono Chul and other nonprofits that Arizona Public Media aired this past Friday. You can view it at https://tv.azpm.org/p/az360episodes

With deep gratitude and sincere wishes for your health and comfort,

Christine Conte, PhD

Executive Director