Historic Cemetery

Historic Cemetery

Feasibility Study

A nationally-renowned historic cemetery began a transformative process to reposition itself as a cultural destination combining the best elements of a public park, an art and history museum and a botanical garden. The transformation was driven in part by financial necessity: as the number of burials decreases each year, so does the operating income that comes with each service performed. To build revenue from new sources, the cemetery needed to enhance its public function. The board and staff developed plans for a museum-like visitor center and a dramatic new entrance landscape to make the entire site more welcoming and to increase visitation.


The cemetery could not afford its transformative capital projects without significant philanthropic investment – but it had only recently begun to make a public case for its fundraising needs and the cemetery’s donor base was still small. Furthermore, its long-serving board had no track record as a fundraising body and many members had a limited understanding of the mechanics of a campaign.


Plan A Advisors recommended a fundraising Feasibility Study not only to gauge the response of prospective donors to a cemetery capital campaign but also to communicate the cemetery’s ambitions to influential people as part of its communications strategy. The resulting report became a catalyst for a series of strategic initiatives, and helped set the capital projects in motion.

Product &

• Formed a Fundraising Committee composed of board and non-board members in order to begin cultivating a broader leadership group for the future.
• Conducted 20 confidential one-on-one interviews with a mix of individuals – half of whom were familiar with the cemetery’s transformative efforts and half of whom had little knowledge of its ambitions.
• Reported back on key findings providing guidance on donor cultivation, staff infrastructure, board building, brand development, marketing and communications, program partnerships and more.