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Houston Zoo


Audra Jesudason, Senior Director of Development Operations


Houston Zoo



Business Challenge

The Houston Zoo’s fundraising team had limited insight into donors’ wealth, backgrounds, and giving intentions. Gift officers used their own judgement when making donation requests because they lacked an understanding of donors’ giving potential. A lot of time was spent on cultivating relationships with donors who were never going to contribute to the zoo, while new potential philanthropists remained unknown.

The zoo’s limitations resulted in long timelines for achieving fundraising goals, donor burnout, and frustration for gift officers who had to rely on anecdotal and publicly available evidence to research their prospect and donor pool. The zoo needed a tool to analyze its fundraising database in order to accelerate its campaigns and increase operating revenue.

Analytics Solution

The Houston Zoo implemented Blackbaud Target Analytics, using predictive modeling tools that enabled its fundraisers to understand donors’ giving potential, identify new donors, optimize relationships with its existing donors, plan for annual and new major gift campaigns, and improve gift officer productivity.


Within a three-year duration, the Houston Zoo experienced shortened fundraising campaign timelines, improved revenue planning, and enhanced its ability to identify new donors:

  • Operations funding increased by more than $450,000 through growing the number of donors and increasing average gift size
  • Major gift campaign revenue increased by $2 million through more targeted outreach
  • The cost of an additional researcher was avoided, resulting in $180,000 in savings