July 13, 2023

President's Letter - Annual Report 2022

Dear Friends,

When there is bad news I like to lead with that. 2022 was not a good year for endowment fund investments. Both stock markets and bond markets were down substantially in 2022. Both down is a rare occurrence. As you see in the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Foundation’s financial report in this annual report, after very substantial investment gains for six years, 2016-2021, the Foundation had an investment loss in 2022. Simply put, after many years of robust gains, there were no safe havens for investors in 2022.

However, 2022 was a very good year in many ways for the Foundation. We had many new donors to the Foundation, including nine donors who left their legacy joining the Perennial Society and two by joining the Bonsai Society. We had outstanding attendance at our annual (and fun!) society donor event in June in the new Tassell-Wisner-Bottrall English Perennial Garden and the new Peter C. & Emajean Cook Entryway. And most important of all, since we are an endowment fund, over $14,300,000 of new contributions income was received in 2022. Much of this substantial sum went to increase the Foundation’s restricted funds.

Restricted funds play an important role in keeping the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park beautiful and growing. If you have a special, favorite part of the Gardens that you would like to support, you can do that with a restricted fund at the Foundation.

Alternatively, you can contribute to a named, unrestricted fund. Like so many of you, my wife Sarah and I “planted our legacy” with
a named, unrestricted fund at the Foundation. If you haven’t done so already, please consider planting your own legacy by joining the Perennial Society with a named fund at a $10,000 level or by joining the Bonsai Society at the $100,000 level. And please note the Bonsai and Perennial Societies require no upfront cash donation; you can make this gift as part of your estate plan.

I speak from personal experience—planting one’s legacy at the Foundation is very satisfying. It's a way to enjoy increased connection with Meijer Gardens and the Foundation.

I welcome Chris Caldwell to the Foundation’s board. Chris heads Varnum’s estate planning practice. Whether you use Varnum or any other estate planning attorney, talk to them, soon, about planting your legacy with the Foundation.

One final comment—as Foundation president, I sit as an ex-officio member of the Gardens Board. From David Hooker’s retirement announcement to interviewing Charles Burke, I was privileged to see the Gardens' very impressive process to transition from an outstanding leader in David to what I believe will be an outstanding leader in Charles. Thank you, David, for working so well with the Foundation. Charles, welcome!

With great appreciation,

Mike Julien
Foundation President