For more than 40 years, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has provided individuals, families and groups with a common place to connect with and learn about the world's wildlife and wild places. In 1976, a group of concerned citizens established Riverbanks Society to provide important support to the Zoo, and the organization continues today as the private, nonprofit membership-based organization supporting the needs of the Zoo and Garden. Starting with just 200 members, the Society has grown far beyond all expectations to more than 38,000 member households (representing more than 190,000 individuals), making it one of the largest zoo societies per capita in the United States.
Riverbanks Society offers various levels of membership to individuals and families and all include unlimited admission to the Zoo and Garden, a subscription to Riverbanks magazine, discounts off special events, free guest passes, and reciprocal admission privileges at participating zoos and aquariums across the country. The Society’s newest Explorer memberships also offer unlimited rides and attractions year-round.
In addition to the support of its member-base, the Society serves as the Zoo and Garden’s development arm and is responsible for conducting capital campaigns, annual appeals, direct mail campaigns and planned giving programs. The last park expansion, known as Destination Riverbanks, included a $4 million capital campaign. This exciting effort reintroduced sea lions to the Zoo’s animal collection in a remarkable recreation of San Francisco’s Pier 39. The development project also included new habitats for grizzly bears and North American river otters, an expanded entry plaza with enhanced guest amenities and the creation of a 3-acre children’s garden in the Botanical Garden.
Other past successful initiatives include a $1 million engraved brick campaign and a $2.5 million capital campaign. Launched in 1999, the campaign was an integral part of the success of the Zoo 2002 renovation resulting in the state-of-the-art Birdhouse at Riverbanks and the Ndoki Forest habitat for gorillas, elephants and meerkats.
Other fundraising efforts directed to Riverbanks Society members create an important source of revenue for the Zoo and Garden. Funds resulting from annual appeals have subsidized everything from major Zoo exhibits to much-needed hospital equipment. The Society also offers programs that not only support the mission of Riverbanks but also give donors the opportunity to share their gifts with others. Through the Wild Parents program, for instance, you can sponsor a Zoo animal and help to provide care for and support the preservation of its species.
In addition to the array of donor opportunities for individuals and families, the Society recruits corporate donors through its Community Partners program. Local businesses receive numerous benefits, including admission tickets, visibility in front of one million visitors each year and acknowledgement in Riverbanks magazine and on the Riverbanks website—all while demonstrating a commitment to protecting the earth.