Initiatives Supported by the Friends
Over 1,500 individuals and families are members of the Friends. Anyone can join, and annual memberships support the Arboretum and Public Garden’s community education programs, student environmental leaders and public gardens. Different levels of membership offer a range of benefits, including early access and discounts at plant sales, free or reduced admission to other botanical gardens, and seasonal gardening advice.
The Friends group hosts plant sales that attract thousands of people from northern California to shop for regionally appropriate plants, including a special collection of Arboretum All-Stars. Traditionally, sales have been held 7 to 8 times per year as large-scale festival events at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery. In fall 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arboretum and Public Garden premiered an online plant sale store so that customers could safely order plants online and pick them up curbside at the nursery. In-person plant sales have been temporarily discontinued but will resume when conditions are safe for on-site public events. The plant sales are supported by community volunteers, student interns, and professional nursery staff members.
Friends Annual Fund and Endowment Fund
The Friends group spearheads community fundraising activity in support of the Arboretum and Public Garden. Donors can make a gift to the Friends annual fund during the year-end appeal or make a gift to the Friends endowment. Friends annual fund gifts support current needs and priorities in the year they are given. Friends endowment gifts are an investment in growing a permanent endowment; annual interest generated by the endowment provides an on-going stream of support for the Arboretum and Public Garden’s future.
Over 240 community volunteers work with Arboretum and Public Garden staff to support the gardens and programs. Many volunteers work on weekly teams and develop a lasting connection to the plants and people. Volunteers help manage plant collections, propagate plants for the nursery, assist with curatorial work, present public programs, and serve on volunteer leadership committees. The Friends board supports the volunteer program by producing special volunteer communications, promoting new volunteer recruitment and hosting an annual volunteer appreciation event. Collectively, Arboretum and Public Garden volunteers contribute over 26,000 of hours of service per year with an estimated value over $780,000!
The Friends board partners with Arboretum and Public Garden staff to host outreach and stewardship events, including annual volunteer recognition and donor appreciation events, public presentations and lectures, and smaller gatherings throughout the year. These activities take place in board member homes, at local businesses/organizations, or in the Arboretum.