Adler Planetarium

“We're grateful to our partners at Campbell & Company for helping us focus the museum's community on a new vision as expressed by the Lift-Off! Campaign, our largest-ever funding initiative."

Charles Katzenmeyer, Former Senior Vice President for External Affairs, Adler Planetarium

About Adler Planetarium

Founded in 1930, Chicago’s Adler Planetarium gave Americans the opportunity to explore the wonders of outer space like never before. Today, the museum houses three cutting-edge theaters, presents revealing space science exhibitions and maintains one of the world’s most significant astronomical instrument collections. A nationally recognized leader in science education, its innovative programs inspire youth, especially women and minorities, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

The Challenge

In 2004, new visualization technologies were promising to render real and computer-generated images of the universe in unprecedented scope and detail, giving the public and scientists an opportunity to “see” astronomical objects and phenomena in entirely new ways. The United States was also facing an alarming decline in the science literacy and aptitude of its young people, as the demand for a new generation of scientists and engineers to spark innovation in crucial fields was increasing. On the occasion of its 75th anniversary, the Adler announced a new vision: to inspire the next generation of explorers and become the world’s premier space science center. The museum unveiled a bold strategic plan to transform the country’s first planetarium into a 21st century space center that captivates visitors with state of the art sky shows, immerses youth in the wonders of science and conducts research into urgent astronomical questions.

The Approach

The Adler Planetarium planned Lift Off! The Campaign for Chicago’s Space Center to realize this vision and recruited NASA Astronaut Jim Lovell to lead the effort. The Adler had conducted smaller fundraising Campaigns before, but Lift-Off! was by far the most ambitious funding effort in the museum’s history.

In order to ensure the campaign proceeded on course, Campbell & Company provided ongoing strategic counsel. Our work helped the Adler lay out the campaign roadmap, foster effective collaboration between the Board and executive leadership, train volunteer staff, and develop cultivation and solicitation strategies for leadership and major gift prospects.

The Results

With a year remaining, Lift-Off! was just shy of reaching its initial $35 million goal. To capitalize on this remarkable momentum, campaign leaders raised the goal to $40 million. On the morning of the campaign’s close, attainment stood at $51.1 million, but in a matter of hours, a $2.5 million capstone commitment pushed the total to $53.6 million. Beyond the numbers, the Lift-Off! campaign resulted in a higher profile, more generous and committed board, and enabled the Adler to engage a new generation of donors in its work. The success of the Campaign is a testament to the leadership, staff and volunteers; we are proud to have played a role in its campaign.