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Massachusetts Horticultural Society

 900 Washington Street
 Wellesley, MA 02482
[P] (617) 933-4900
[F] (617) 933-4901
Katherine Macdonald
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-2104714

LAST UPDATED: 11/15/2017
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Mass Hort) is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and to developing the public's enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment.

Mission Statement

Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Mass Hort) is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and to developing the public's enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Oct 01, 2017 to Sept 30, 2018
Projected Income $1,478,464.00
Projected Expense $1,404,922.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Adult Education- lectures and workshops
  • Boston Flower and Garden Show
  • Plantmobile- school science outreach van
  • Seed to Table

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Mass Hort) is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and to developing the public's enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment.

Background Statement

Founded in 1829 in Boston, Mass Hort is America’s oldest horticultural society. Located on 36 acres in the historic Elm Bank Reservation in Dover, The Gardens at Elm Bank provide a place where people can come together to learn about plants, gardens and connect with the natural world. Mass Hort is an educational nonprofit with 4,500 members. Katherine K. Macdonald is Executive Director/President and leads a team of 12 employees and a large contingent of volunteers. The Board of Trustees includes 18 directors. R. Wayne Mezitt is Chairman of the Board. A Board of Overseers includes 22 people. Mass Hort is supported by donors, members, foundations, and our events business. Mass Hort has a 99-year lease from the Department of Conservation and Recreation of the Commonwealth of MA. The property includes historic Olmsted Brother’s landscapes and twelve teaching gardens. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Education programs include lecture series, a daily children’s program in Weezie’s Children’s Garden, our traveling science van, the Plantmobile, which visits schools and outreach events. Our lending library has over 23,000 volumes, including rare books and prints. In 2015 our library partnered with the Digital Commonwealth to scan the image of over 1,000 botanical prints and put them in the public domain for people to enjoy. Events help to connect Mass Hort with our many constituencies and include the Festival of Trees and Snow Village in November and December and the Gardener’s Fair in the spring. Mass Hort ran the New England Spring Flower Show for 132 years. In 2010, the Paragon Group established the Boston Flower and Garden Show, where Mass Hort manages the floral design, amateur horticulture, photography, Ikebana, miniature gardens and structures classes. Approximately 60,000 people attend the show. Mass Hort founded Mount Auburn Cemetery in 1831 and was involved in major gardens in the city over its 188-year history. During World War II, the Society helped the Boston community by teaching people to plant vegetable gardens so they could provide nutritious meals for their families. Today, the local food movement brings the Society back to its roots, helping people learn how to cultivate vegetables and donating over 4,000 pounds of produce to food pantries. The Gardens at Elm Bank opened as a garden tourism destination in 2015, with a new visitor center and daily programming in the gardens from May to October.  

Impact Statement

Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s vision in our Strategic Plan guides our accomplishments as well as our goals. Our vision focuses on four strategic objectives: 1) To help the greater community better understand the natural world and appreciate stewardship of plants, gardens, and the environment; 2) To develop The Gardens at Elm Bank as a premier destination for garden tourism in New England; 3) To have Mass Hort be a primary resource for horticultural knowledge and best practices in the Northeast; and 4) To promote horticulture for the public good.Our goals for 2017 include: 1) increasing our educational programming to reach more children and adults; 2) increasing visitors to The Gardens at Elm Bank by improving the gardens and grounds; 3) investing a new greenhouse through grants; and 4) engaging the public at the flower show and trade events in horticulture, and continuing our agricultural programming to leverage sustainable practices in the garden and connect families to the natural world.  In 2017, Mass Hort’s accomplishments included: 1) Increased education programs serving over 1,000 adults through lectures and workshops, increased daily children’s programs reaching 801 children and 964 adults, over 34 visits to greater Boston area schools with our travelling science van, the Plantmobile, a Mass Hort hosted a school gardens conference, which served over 150 educators, volunteers, and administrators; 2) Over 20,000 visitors to The Gardens at Elm Bank for events and enjoyment, 3) Installed a new Hartley Botanic Victorian Lodge greenhouse to showcase flower show; 4) We promoted horticulture at the flower show in Boston to 57,000 attendees and at New England Grows to the Green Industry; and 5) Mass Hort’s Seed to Table program promoted local foods, nutrition, cultivation and cooking from the garden, donating over 4,000 pounds of fresh produce to two food pantries.    

Needs Statement

Massachusetts Horticultural Society is steward to 36 acres that include 16 acres of gardens under cultivation, seven buildings and three greenhouse structures. Our property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In support of our strategic plan, the Board of Trustees have initiated a Master Plan process to provide a blueprint for our vision of a spectacular public garden serving the health and enjoyment of people from Greater Boston and beyond. We are in a fundraising campaign to raise $250,000 needed to fund the research and work on the plan by a team of consultants, under the firm Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture, Inc.  This initiative will address the restoration of the historic Olmsted Brothers Asian Garden, new garden placements, connecting shed view to the Charles River, the Manor House restoration to open the doors, garden visitor amenities, such as café, library, and gift shop, wayfinding signage, and vehicular and pedestrian circulation.

CEO Statement


Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.
City of Boston- Citywide (Indiv. neighborhoods also listed)
Mass Hort serves the 351 communities of Massachusetts. We have a strong New England regional influence through our participation in the annual spring Flower Show. Our Honorary Medals, awarded every other year, are nationally esteemed. The geographical focus of our educational programs is the Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA US Census) with specific programs like the Plantmobile, directed to help under-served populations in Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Framingham and Boston.Visitation to our gardens in MetroWest is primarily from the Boston MSA. Our website and horticultural help line have a state wide influence.

Organization Categories

  1. Education - Adult Education
  2. Environment -
  3. Food, Agriculture & Nutrition - Food, Agriculture & Nutrition NEC

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Adult Education- lectures and workshops

In addition to our successful Thursday Night at the Hort lecture series, in FY15 we introduced Saturday morning, hands-on programs in the gardens. Dozens of members and non-members would attend these workshops to learn thematic gardening skills from professional and certified gardeners. In FY16, we added a Tuesday afternoon lecture series that has found incredible success, drawing in a new audience. We have also increased the number of serial classes, which allow attendees to delve deeply into a topic or skill such as floral arrangement or landscape design over the course of several weeks. These courses give our patrons a richer introduction to the horticulture.

Budget  $45,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Adult Education
Population Served Adults Families
Program Short-Term Success   

FY14: 36 events, 893 attendees, revenue: $26,205.60

FY15: 37 events, 1019 attendees, revenue: $35,199.50

FY16 YTD: 29 events, 594 attendees, revenue: $19081.00 (and 13 more programs booked)

Program Long-Term Success  Help develop people appreciation and understanding of horticulture, plants, gardens, and the environment.
Program Success Monitored By 



Offerings relevance
Survey of members 
Examples of Program Success   

FY14: 36 events, 893 attendees, revenue: $26,205.60

FY15: 37 events, 1019 attendees, revenue: $35,199.50

FY16 YTD: 29 events, 594 attendees, revenue: $19081.00 (and 13 more programs booked)

Boston Flower and Garden Show

The Boston Flower and Garden Show is the largest outreach event that Mass Hort is involved with, reaching approximately 60,000 people. Massachusetts Horticultural Society manages the Amateur Competition at the Boston Flower & Garden Show which is owned by the Paragon Group. The Amateur Competition includes: floral design, Amateur Horticulture, Miniature Gardens, Photography, and Ikebana.

Additionally, Mass Hort has a landscape exhibit at the show and  Educational Programming.

Budget  $100,000.00
Category  Environment, General/Other Environmental & Sustainable Design
Population Served Adults Children Only (5 - 14 years) Families
Program Short-Term Success  Visitors to the Boston Flower and Garden Show come visit the Gardens at Elm Bank, take educational courses, and become members.
Program Long-Term Success  The long term success of this outreach program is to get families excited about and involved in horticulture including plants, gardens, and the natural world.
Program Success Monitored By 

Number of memberships sold at the show.

Number of free entry cards that come with visitors to The Gardens at Elm Bank

Number of Mass Hort members that attend the show.
Number of show attendees reported by the Paragon Group's ticket booth. 
Examples of Program Success 

Over 75% of our members attend the show.

Over 50% of our members, when surveyed, say their Flower Show tickets are an important benefit.

Plantmobile- school science outreach van


The Plantmobile, in its 25th year, provides engaging programs delivered all over Massachusetts. Programs are delivered in schools, to youth groups, and at community events. The topics introduced to youth are routinely updated to reflect the current trends and interests within the Environmental Education and Plant Science fields. Additionally, school programs are revised to meet changing curriculum standards. Due to the dynamism of the Plantmobile program and educators, this legacy programs has remained relevant throughout the decades.

This traveling plant science van provides hands on experiential, educational programs for students in grades K-8. In 2015 the program traveled to 38 school and outreach event, serving 4,400 students. Programs are designed to provide students with a rewarding horticultural experience. Programs on a variety of topics and activities coincide with elementary school plant science curriculum and with Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Frameworks.

Budget  $45,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Educational Delivery
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years) Families
Program Short-Term Success   In 2015 the Plantmobile visited 38 schools and outreach event, serving 4,400 children.

Schools are doing follow up work in the classroom and field trips to Elm Bank.

FY14: 2 trips, 159 kids

FY15: 5 trips, 99 kids

FY16 bookings to date: 9 trips, 796 kids

The Education Coordinator routinely gets emails and letters from children and teachers on how the program impacted them.

Program Long-Term Success 

The Plantmobile program is designed to excite children’s curiosity about the world around them and specifically to the role plants play in the ecosystem. It is our hope that students will become enthusiastic about science and contemplate further study through the school classroom and beyond.

2014 Numbers: 20 Programs (serving 1,894 people) Revenue: $4184.60

2015 Numbers: 38 Programs (serving 3,274 people) Revenue:  $10,190.00

2016 Bookings to Date: 48 Programs (serving 3667 people) Revenue: $12,266.55


Program Success Monitored By 

The number of visits;  follow up emails and letters from schools, teachers, and students and other organizations that are hosting the Plantmobile.

Examples of Program Success  The Plantmobile is in its 25th year of serving students from Greater Boston. Each year it travel to additional schools.

Seed to Table

The Seed to Table Program helps people join the local food movement by educating them about cultivating, preparing and preserving food from the garden, and sustainable agriculture.

Our partnership with the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging includes installing a community garden in downtown Boston where all of the produce is donated to the St. Francis House and a The Talk and Taste lecture series that pairs an HNRCA scientist, Mass Hort horticulturist and local chef to educate on plant and nutrition science and cooking.

The Seed to Table program works to address issues of food access in our community and provides a model for other communities to do the same. From our Seed to Table vegetable garden, we send semiweekly donations of fresh organic produce to the Wellesley Food Pantry and Natick Service Council food distribution center, totaling 4,000 pounds of produce per year.

Budget  $35,000.00
Category  Food, Agriculture & Nutrition, General/Other Agricultural Production
Population Served Adults Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Families
Program Short-Term Success 

8 Seed to Table workshops/lectures at Mass Hort; 4 Lectures in Boston in collaboration with Boston Adult Ed and Tufts; Delivery of 4,000 pounds of produce to 2 food pantries 

Program Long-Term Success   

The goal of the Seed to Table Garden is to help people focus on where their foods come from and eating nutritious, organic foods, and help people realize the food deficits for people of lesser means.

Program Success Monitored By 

Number of volunteers working in the garden

Pounds of produce delivered weekly/annually to food pantries

Number of attendees at lectures and workshops on vegetable gardening and cooking 
Examples of Program Success 

Partnerships with 2 food pantries, delivery of 4,000 pounds of produce; conference on school vegetable gardens with 150 attendees; addition of vegetable planting in children's garden

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Program success is based on program design and the educational staff delivering the programs. Our Educational Coordinator, Katie Folts, has done a terrific job growing the programs. Our revenues in FY15 for education were up 84% over the previous year. The increase of programs and attendance also requires additional expenditure in marketing, materials, and curriculum research. These are expenses that we want to support so that we may grow.


CEO/Executive Director Mrs. Katherine K. Macdonald
CEO Term Start Jan 2011
CEO Email
CEO Experience Katherine K. Macdonald, President and Executive Director, joined Massachusetts Horticultural Society in January 2011. Kathy has a Masters in Business Administration from the Olin Graduate School of  Business at Babson College. Her business career spans more than twenty-five years, and includes entrepreneurship (her own marketing consulting business), two new technology ventures, Xerox Corporation, management positions in the hospitality industry, and nonprofits. Kathy was Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Thompson Island Outward Bound, an educational nonprofit. Long active in civic affairs in her hometown of Wellesley, Kathy has been an elected Town Meeting member for 25 years. She has served on multiple committees, including the Advisory Committee (vice chair of the Town’s finance committee), the Wellesley Housing Development Corporation, and the Community Preservation Committee.  Kathy is a lifelong gardener and an avid cyclist. Kathy participates in the Pan Massachusetts Challenge, raising donations and awareness for cancer and the Dana Farber Institute.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Dan Brooks Director of Operations --
David Fiske Gardens Curator --
Elaine Lawrence Director of Development --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 8
Number of Part Time Staff 4
Number of Volunteers 500
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 10
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 7
Male: 5
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 10
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan --
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Exempt
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Mr R. Wayne Mezitt
Board Chair Company Affiliation Weston Nurseries
Board Chair Term Oct 2014 - Sept 2017
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mark Ahronian Ahronian Landscape and Design, Inc. Business Owner Voting
Gretel Anspach Retired Voting
Dr. Wesley Autio UMASS, Stockbridge School of Agriculture Voting
Lynne K. Bower Stonegate Gardens Voting
Daniel Daly Daniel Roberts, Inc. Recruiter Voting
Helen Glotzer Allandale Farm Manager Voting
Keith Greenfield Dover Group, Inc. Voting
Lisa Haddad Goodwin Proctor, LLC Voting
Katherine K. Macdonald Massachusetts Horticultural Society Exofficio
R. Wayne Mezitt Weston Nurseries Voting
Dr. Barbara Millen Boston University Voting
Susan Mooney Seaward Management Voting
Julia O'Brien Retired Voting
Finlay Perry Retired Voting
Darrol Roberts Robert's Wineware, Inc. Voting
Elizabeth W. Rosenthall Garden Club Federation of MA Voting
Robert Smith CBIZ Tofias Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 16
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 10
Male: 6
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 85%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 90%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Audit, Compliance and Controls
  • Building
  • Campus Planning and Development
  • Compensation
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Finance
  • Nominating

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Fiscal Year Oct 01, 2017 to Sept 30, 2018
Projected Income $1,478,464.00
Projected Expense $1,404,922.00
Form 990s

2016 FY16 990

2015 FY15 990

2014 FY14 990

2013 FY13 990

Audit Documents

2015 FY15 Audited Financial Statements

2014 FY14 Audited Financial Statements

2013 FY13 Audited Financial Statements

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $1,522,976 $1,736,938 $1,339,202
Total Expenses $1,642,022 $1,640,719 $1,580,807

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- $0
Individual Contributions $346,716 $611,729 $265,137
Indirect Public Support -- -- $0
Earned Revenue $980,845 $932,591 $924,187
Investment Income, Net of Losses $80,758 $115,545 $80,509
Membership Dues -- -- $0
Special Events $105,006 $70,581 $44,611
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $9,651 $6,492 $24,758

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $1,241,257 $1,312,327 $1,363,307
Administration Expense $230,815 $224,497 $138,526
Fundraising Expense $169,950 $103,895 $78,974
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.93 1.06 0.85
Program Expense/Total Expenses 76% 80% 86%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 38% 15% 25%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $5,292,091 $5,371,729 $5,327,193
Current Assets $538,569 $688,640 $1,162,419
Long-Term Liabilities -- $0 $0
Current Liabilities $463,904 $411,840 $358,087
Total Net Assets $4,828,187 $4,959,889 $4,969,106

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value $1,168,555.00
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 1.16 1.67 3.25

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Mass Hort has been working to improve its business. With a new board with representation in relevant business backgrounds: CPA, Business Owners, Human Resources, Legal, and horticulture, the Trustees are focused on the financials for the organization.We have a very active finance and investment committee. Revenues are generated from membership and our events business, as well as donors and foundations. Our fiscal management is conservative in our growth and budgets are very tight for expenses. Our challenge is to move from a non profit known for and supported by a flower show that we no longer own to one that is supported by our property in Dover, The Gardens at Elm Bank, and our educational activities.

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in charts and graphs are per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

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