Knock Knock Children’s Museum closes on $14M capital campaign

    Knock Knock Children’s Museum has officially closed on its $14 million capital campaign, museum officials confirmed Tuesday, reaching its fundraising goal just before the museum celebrates its one-year anniversary next week.
    The money will go toward the museum’s general operating expenses, as 40% of its $2.5 million annual operating budget comes from philanthropic donations, says Jessica Gagliano, Knock Knock’s director of development. The news comes after the museum announced it brought in 200,000 visitors in the past 12 months, making it one of Baton Rouge’s most-visited attractions.
    “It’s such a special early birthday gift for us,” Gagliano says. “Now, we’re looking down the road at how we’re going to expand our private space.”
    The final anonymous $500,000 donation brings to a close eight years of grassroots fundraising efforts, though the campaign wasn’t formally announced until 2013. At that time, BREC pooled in a $3 million capital commitment from a private donor.
    Another $3 million for the museum’s buildout came from a Founding Member campaign in which Knock Knock’s six founding members approached 30 local families and companies that each pitched in $50,000. The Pennington Foundation then provided a $1.5 million match to close out the mini-campaign.
    But the majority of the dollars raised came from a Learning Zone campaign, where Baton Rouge companies donate money to sponsor one of the museum’s “learning zones,” including an Art Garden, Bubble Playground and Paws & Claws Clinic. As of today, 16 of the museum’s 18 learning zones are sponsored, Gagliano says.
    After some additional dollars were raised through community outreach initiatives and unrestricted gifts, the anonymous donor gifted closed out the campaign two weeks ago.
    While the children’s museum is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, BREC granted Knock Knock a long-term land lease, contributed to the building costs and gives $25,000 annually to assist with operations.
    However, as a nonprofit, the museum will continue to heavily rely on local philanthropic support.
    “What we’re hoping the community understands is that we’re separate from BREC,” Gagliano says. “Our capital campaign has set us up for success, but the need for funding is still there.”

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