ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo Society is on a roll, posting its best two-year fundraising period ever in 2009 and 2010.
The organization, which raises money to support the North Carolina Zoo, generated $4.85 million in 2009, its best year ever, and nearly $4.1 million in 2010.
“We’re really gratified that in this economy we’re getting this kind of response,” says Russ Williams, the group’s executive director.
The net results for both years include roughly $200,000 a year from investment earnings.
The Zoo Society had its second-best year ever in 2002, when it raised $4.75 million, including a $2.5 million estate gift near the end of the year.
The 2009 totals included $2.4 million in restricted giving, $300,000 in unrestricted giving, and $711,000 from events, special programs, lifetime memberships, and corporate sponsorships and memberships.
The 2010 totals included $3.2 million in restricted giving, $280,000 in unrestricted giving, and $609,000 in other revenue.
Corporate sponsorships and membership fell slightly in 2010, likely reflecting the weak economy, Williams says.
The totals in 2010 also included a $1 million bequest from Anton Schindler of Durham.
Half those funds were earmarked for breeding more African elephants and Southern white rhinos, and half were earmarked for maintaining a wildlife rehabilitation center and a wildlife learning center, both named for Schindler’s late wife, Valerie H. Schindler.
Over the last 10 years, Schindler was the lead donor in creating both facilities.
In response to requests from the Zoo, the Zoo Society transferred $3.25 million to the Zoo in 2009 and $2.5 million in 2010.
The Zoo Society, for example, has raised $2.2 million in recent years, including $1 million in 2010, for Project Polar Bear, a project that will increase the number of polar bears at the Zoo to at least four or five from two, as well as expanding the land for the polar-bear exhibit.
But the Zoo so far has requested only $34,000 of those funds for the expansion, which will open in 2013.
The Zoo Society also is trying to raise $500,000 to provide more outdoor space for tHe Zoo’s ocelot exhibit.
Kicking off with a solicitation late in 2010, that effort has raised $55,000, with the expansion scheduled to begin this year and be completed in 2012.