San Diego Zoo Reframes Conservation

The Zoo hoped to find new revenue sources for conservation-related programs so it could continue to grow without relying on recreation for funding.


A new source of revenue for one of America’s most beloved institutions.

World-famous for its animal collection and recreational attractions, the San Diego Zoo is also a non-profit organization with deep experience in conservation. Despite the Zoo’s considerable conservation programs, these efforts are not well-known to the public and costly. Jump helped the Zoo create a conservation leadership strategy that would develop new sources of revenue.

Becoming world famous for conservation

For over ninety years, the world-famous San Diego Zoo has been helping people make a deeper connection to wildlife through recreation, education, and conservation. Recently, the Zoo realized that despite its extensive conservation work in San Diego and around the world, its reputation for recreation was overshadowing this key element of its mission. Moreover, the Zoo hoped to find new revenue sources for conservation programs so it could continue to grow without relying on recreation for funding. The Zoo tapped Jump to define new growth platforms that would not only create new value for the organization but also expand its conservation capability and credibility.

Understanding how regular people see conservation

Together, Jump and the Zoo intercepted visitors and members of all ages and demographics at the San Diego Zoo’s facilities to find out what they considered to be the larger issues affecting the world today and how those related to animals and the environment. The team discovered that while most people do things that align with the goals of conservation, they don’t think of them as conservation. Most people have other personal motivators for these activities, including the health of their families, saving money, or even religion.

Creating a strategy unique to the Zoo’s capabilities

The Jump team developed an opportunity map with fourteen growth areas that define the landscape of revenue-generating conservation activities. Seven areas were prioritized as having high potential for the Zoo. These came to the forefront for reasons such as their ability to leverage Zoo capabilities and their revenue potential. In addition to opportunity areas and strategy, Jump delivered strategic imperatives to help the Zoo make good decisions about which areas to pursue as it develops new initiatives going forward. Jump’s work was met with great enthusiasm by the Zoo’s top fifty executives, including the CEO, COO, and CFO. The Zoo was also excited to find that Jump’s work helped to clarify why some initiatives in the past had been successful internally and externally while others had failed.

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