Como Friends inspires community generosity to advance Como Park Zoo and Conservatory as a destination where people from all walks of life can gather, learn and enjoy the natural world.
In the next five years, the work of Como Friends will be guided by these core values:
Engage the community and donors of Como Friends;
steward the resources entrusted to us, and respect the wishes of each donor; embrace Como Friends’ growth to support continuous improvements of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory; serve as a model for an exemplary public-private partnership with the City of Saint Paul; honor the traditions of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in our community; support education and enjoyment for all, with special concern for those who may not otherwise have access.
Review Completed: 11/6/2013
1225 Estabrook Drive
Saint Paul, MN 55103
|Other Names Used
||Formerly known as Como Zoo and Conservatory Society
||Jackie Sticha, Executive Director
|Number of Full-Time Equivalents (FTE)
|Number of Volunteers
|Number of Clients Served
|Number of Board Members
|Board meetings with quorum
|Average Member Attendance at Board Meetings
|Publicly Available Documents
Most Recent 990
Most Recent Audit
In 2012, Como Friends provided $2.6 million in support to Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, including $1.7 million in support for major capital renovations and $900,000 in support for Como’s education programs, animal enrichment and training programs, and garden enhancements. Como Friends funds capital improvements that make nature and conservation relevant to a 21st century audience, underwrites education programs that are provided free of charge every day of the year to visitors, and invests in best practices in animal care and garden management. These investments add value to every visitor’s experience at Como, layering in education messages about science and wildlife while providing a free destination that is accessible to all Minnesota families and schools.
Following the completion of the Campaign for Como in 2011, the $18.8 million capital campaign that funded Polar Bear Odyssey and The Ordway Gardens, Como Friends’ board of directors completed a new strategic plan to set goals for the nonprofit’s continued growth for the next five years. The plan, adopted in December 2012, calls for an increase in current annual fundraising goals, more aggressive membership and major gifts programs, and a robust communications and marketing plan designed to raise community awareness of the work of Como Friends, as well as the important role private contributions play in continuing Como’s commitment to free admission for all audiences.
As the opening of Polar Bear Odyssey, The Ordway Gardens, and Gorilla Forest mark the completion of Phase One of a 20-year master plan to transform the historic zoo and conservatory for the 21st century, Como Friends will serve as a partner and advocate to Como as the campus begins work on additional improvements, including a face-lift for the 1980s-era African Hoofstock Building and a renovation of the WPA-era Seal Island exhibit and amphitheater. The nonprofit will also continue a multi-layered fundraising approach that includes growing corporate sponsorships, foundation grants, three annual fundraising events, private contributions, and revenue generated through Como Friends' gift shop operation.
Community or Constituency Served
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory serves a diverse audience of over two million visitors of all ages, incomes, and ethnicities—the largest of any cultural institution in the state of Minnesota. The state’s top family destination, Como is also the leading provider of conservation education in the region, with value-added programming that reaches approximately one in four Como visitors. Nearly half of Como’s visitors are children under the age of 18, while one in three come from communities of color—a diversity rate double that of the general metropolitan area. One of only four metro area zoos and botanical gardens in the country that is still free to visitors, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is the 7th most visited zoo in the United States.
Geographic Area Served
A true regional destination, Como welcomes visitors from the surrounding metro area and across the upper Midwest. Of Como's 1,979,042 visitors in 2012, approximately 47 percent were from Minneapolis, the surrounding suburbs, and western Wisconsin; 22 percent were from Greater Minnesota; 16 percent were from the City of St. Paul; and 15 percent of visitors were from outside the state.
Impact and Programs
3 Year Average Expenses
Unrestricted Net Assets
|End of Year:
|Beginning of Year
|Unrestricted Net Assets (End of Year), Current 990
|Based on information provided on 2010 to 2012