Mission: Our mission is to study the foundation of global ocean health and use our discoveries to improve the future for all life on the planet. For example, we use cutting-e ... (More)

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1961, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  https://www.bigelow.org/

 60 Bigelow Drive
East Boothbay ME 04544 

  207-315-2567


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Star Rating System by Charity Navigator


Charity Navigator evaluates a nonprofit organization’s financial health including measures of stability, efficiency and sustainability. We also track accountability and transparency policies to ensure the good governance and integrity of the organization.




Exceptional

This charity's score is 90.00, earning it a 4-Star rating. Donors can "Give with Confidence" to this charity. 

This score is calculated from two sub-scores:

This score represents Form 990 data from 2019, the latest year published by the IRS.

View this organization’s historical ratings.


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Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

79.3%


The Program Expense Ratio is determined by Program Expenses divided by Total Expense (average of most recent three 990s).


This measure reflects the percent of its total expenses a charity spends on the programs and services it exists to deliver. Dividing a charity's average program expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Administrative Expenses

15.3%


As reported by charities on their IRS Form 990, this measure reflects what percent of its total budget a charity spends on overhead, administrative staff and associated costs, and organizational meetings. Dividing a charity's average administrative expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Expenses

5.2%


This measure reflects what a charity spends to raise money. Fundraising expenses can include campaign printing, publicity, mailing, and staffing and costs incurred in soliciting donations, memberships, and grants. Dividing a charity's average fundraising expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Liabilities to Assets Ratio

32.4%


The Liabilities to Assets Ratio is determined by Total Liabilities divided by Total Assets (most recent 990).


Part of our goal in rating the financial performance of charities is to help donors assess the financial capacity and sustainability of a charity. As do organizations in other sectors, charities must be mindful of their management of total liabilites in relation to their total assets. This ratio is an indicator of an organization’s solvency and or long term sustainability. Dividing a charity's total liabilities by its total assets yields this percentage.


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Efficiency

$0.05


The amount spent to raise $1 in charitable contributions. To calculate a charity's fundraising efficiency, we divide its average fundraising expenses by the average total contributions it receives. We calculate the charity's average expenses and average contributions over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Working Capital Ratio

2.47 years


Determines how long a charity could sustain its level of spending using its net available assets, or working capital, as reported on its most recently filed Form 990. We include in a charity's working capital unrestricted and temporarily restricted net assets, and exclude permanently restricted net assets. Dividing these net available assets in the most recent year by a charity's average total expenses, yields the working capital ratio. We calculate the charity's average total expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Program Expense Growth

-8.65%


We compute the average annual growth of program expenses using the following formula: [(Yn/Y0)(1/n)]-1, where Y0 is a charity's program expenses in the first year of the interval analyzed, Yn is the charity's program expenses in the most recent year, and n is the interval of years passed between Y0 and Yn.


Source: IRS Form 990

Governance


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990 that the organization has these governance practices in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990

Governance:
Independent Voting Board Members  ... (More)
No Material Diversion of Assets ... (More)

A diversion of assets – any unauthorized conversion or use of the organization's assets other than for the organization's authorized purposes, including but not limited to embezzlement or theft – can seriously call into question a charity's financial integrity. We check the charity's last two Forms 990 to see if the charity has reported any diversion of assets. If the charity does report a diversion, then we check to see if it complied with the Form 990 instructions by describing what happened and its corrective action. This metric will be assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Full Credit: There has been no diversion of assets within the last two years.

  • Partial Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity has used Schedule O on the Form 990 to explain: the nature of the diversion, the amount of money or property involved and the corrective action taken to address the matter. In this situation, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity's explanation on Schedule O is either non-existent or not sufficient. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
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Audited Financials Prepared by Independent Accountant ... (More)

Audited financial statements provide important information about financial accountability and accuracy. They should be prepared by an independent accountant with oversight from an audit committee. (It is not necessary that the audit committee be a separate committee. Often at smaller charities, it falls within the responsibilities of the finance committee or the executive committee.) The committee provides an important oversight layer between the management of the organization, which is responsible for the financial information reported, and the independent accountant, who reviews the financials and issues an opinion based on its findings. We check the charity's Form 990 reporting to see if it meets this criteria.

  • Full Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant with an audit oversight committee.

  • Partial Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant, but it did not have an audit oversight committee. In this case, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: The charity did not have its audited financials prepared by an independent accountant. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
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Does Not Provide Loan(s) to or Receive Loan(s) From Related Parties ... (More)
Documents Board Meeting Minutes ... (More)
Distributes 990 to Board Before Filing ... (More)
Compensates Board ... (More)

Policies


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization has these policies in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Policies:
Conflict of Interest  ... (More)
Whistleblower ... (More)
Records Retention and Destruction ... (More)
CEO Compensation Process ... (More)
Donor Privacy ... (More)

Donors have expressed extreme concern about the use of their personal information by charities and the desire to have this information kept confidential. The exchanging and sale of lists for telemarketing and the mass distribution of "junk mail," among other things, can be minimized if the charity assures the privacy of its donors. Privacy policies are assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Yes: This charity has a written donor privacy policy published on its website, which states unambiguously that (1) it will not share or sell a donor's personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations or (2) it will only share or sell personal information once the donor has given the charity specific permission to do so.

  • Opt-out: The charity has a written privacy policy published on its website which enables donors to tell the charity to remove their names and contact information from lists the charity shares or sells. How a donor can have themselves removed from a list differs from one charity to the next, but any and all opt-out policies require donors to take specific action to protect their privacy.
  • No: This charity either does not have a written donor privacy policy in place to protect their contributors' personal information, or the existing policy does not meet our criteria.

The privacy policy must be specific to donor information. A general website policy which references "visitor" or "user" personal information will not suffice. A policy that refers to donor information collected on the website is also not sufficient as the policy must be comprehensive and applicable to both online and offline donors. The existence of a privacy policy of any type does not prohibit the charity itself from contacting the donor for informational, educational, or solicitation purposes.

(Less)

Transparency


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization makes this information easily accessible.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Transparency:
CEO Salary Listed on 990 ... (More)
Board of Directors Listed on Website ... (More)
Key Staff Listed on Website ... (More)
Audited Financial Statements on Website ... (More)
Form 990 Available on Website ... (More)

Additional Information

Unscored

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Total Revenue and Expenses

Total Revenue and Expenses

This chart displays the trend of revenue and expenses over the past several years for this organization, as reported on their IRS Form 990.

Salary of Key Persons

Presented here are this organizations key compensated staff members as identified by our analysts. This compensation data includes salary, cash bonuses and expense accounts and is displayed exactly how it is reported to the IRS. The amounts do not include nontaxable benefits, deferred compensation, or other amounts not reported on W-2. In some cases, these amounts may include compensation from related organizations. Read the IRS policies for compensation reporting



Deborah Bronk, President, CEO

$222,551 (1.73% of Total Expenses)


Source: IRS Form 990 (page 7), filing year 2020

Business Master File Data

Below are some key data points from the Exempt Organization IRS Business Master File (BMF) for this organization. Learn more about the BMF on the IRS website


Activities:

Scientific research (diseases) (BMF activity code: 161)

Contact or sponsored scientific research for industry (BMF activity code: 180)


Foundation Status:

Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public   170(b)(1)(A)(vi) (BMF foundation code: 15)


Affiliation:

Independent - the organization is an independent organization or an independent auxiliary (i.e., not affiliated with a National, Regional, or Geographic grouping of organizations). (BMF affiliation code: 3)

Data Sources: IRS Forms 990

The Form 990 is a document that nonprofit organizations file with the IRS annually. We leverage finance and accountability data from it to form Encompass ratings. Click here to view this organization's Forms 990 on the IRS website (if any are available).

Pandemic Response

Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, we give charities such as this one the opportunity to share the story of COVID's impact on them. Charities may submit their own pandemic responses through their nonprofit portal.


Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Staffing


How COVID-19 impacted the organization's operations financially:

Although Bigelow did not shut down or lay off staff during the first year of the pandemic, we were still operating at generally diminished capacity due to restrictive State regulations, internal safety protocols, and the fact that many collaborators and clients were shut down and also operating at diminished capacity. This translated into a slower ramping up of research projects and education activity and resulted in several projects and worldwide fieldwork budgeted for the recently completed 2021 fiscal year to be rescheduled to 2022. While some of our science is computer-based and was not greatly affected, many of our scientists’ research cruises (which rely on third-party ships being available) were postponed and cancelled. Things turned back on slowly and that had an effect on our revenue. Our budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022 predicts a world that is either recovering from the pandemic or has learned to operate more normally given the persistent COVID environment.


How COVID-19 impacted the organization's delivery of programs:

The Bigelow team has been able to cautiously proceed without shutting down during the pandemic, but the past year was a year of struggle for how to operate a research lab. We experienced many fieldwork cancellations or research cruise rescheduling and student programming delays, slowing down the pace of our ocean research. We had to put our new volunteer docent program on hold and move our popular public education program to a virtual platform. Zoom fatigue has been a challenge for all of us. In 2020, we were able to host some students in person while most of our undergraduate internships had to be held remotely. In 2021, we were thrilled to be able to resume in-person student programming.


How this organization adapted to changing conditions caused by COVID-19:

We launched a new five-year strategic plan in February 2020, right before the pandemic lockdown, and still managed to make progress toward achieving our ambitious goals. We took the pandemic shutdown opportunity to transition to new laboratory-wide business software, which replaced a half dozen antiquated programs that did not talk to each other. We now have purchasing, payroll, advancement, e-commerce, and more under one integrated system that is accessible by all members of the leadership team and director-level staff. This has increased accessibility and transparency across the institution. It also gives us the ability to do long-term planning and forecasting, which is invaluable. We received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan from the US Small Business Administration in 2020 which was forgiven recently.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

Thanks to the pandemic, we got even better at working with research partners and students all over the world via Zoom. We will continue to have hybrid, virtual and in-person events and programming. We are pleased with the new and far-flung participants this virtual platform allows to access Bigelow science.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
3/1/20212019 90.00
2/1/20212019 89.61

This organization received multiple star ratings within this fiscal year, due to an update to it's Accountability and Transparency data and/or the receipt of an amended Form 990.

7/1/20192018 96.10
8/1/20182017 96.66
8/1/20172016 95.80
7/1/20172016 94.15

...   Impact & Results


This score estimates the actual impact a nonprofit has on the lives of those it serves, and determines whether it is making good use of donor resources to achieve that impact.


Impact & Results Score

Not Currently Scored

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences cannot currently be evaluated by our Encompass Rating Impact & Results methodology because either (A) it is eligible, but we have not yet received data; (B) we have not yet developed an algorithm to estimate its programmatic impact; (C) its programs are not direct services; or (D) it is not heavily reliant on contributions from individual donors.

Note: The absence of a score does not indicate a positive or negative assessment, it only indicates that we have not yet evaluated the organization.

Learn more about Impact & Results.

Do you work at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences? Join the waitlist for an updated Impact & Results score.


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Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences reported its largest program on its FY 2020 Form 990 as:


$11,632,018

Spent in most recent FY

100%

Percent of program expenses


Providing scientific and educational research for governmental, commercial, and educational entities.


...   Leadership & Adaptability


This score provides an assessment of the organization's leadership capacity, strategic thinking and planning, and ability to innovate or respond to changes in constituent demand/need or other relevant social and economic conditions to achieve the organization's mission.


Leadership & Adaptability Score

100

out of 100

The score earned by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is a passing score.

Encompass Rating V4 provides an evaluation of the organization's Leadership & Adaptability through the nonprofit organization submitting a survey response directly to Charity Navigator.


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Leadership & Adaptability Report

100

of 100 points

Mission

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking through articulating the organization’s mission


Our mission is to study the foundation of global ocean health and use our discoveries to improve the future for all life on the planet.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking through articulating the organization’s vision.


Our vision is a world where scientific understanding of the ocean turns the tide on global challenges and unlocks the full potential of the ocean to support our society.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Strategic Goals

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking and goal setting through sharing their most important strategic goals.


Goal One: Through 2025, we intend to better understand the role of the ocean in global ecosystem health and the role of the microbial engine in the global ocean food web.

Goal Type: Grow, expand, scale or increase access to the existing programs and services.


Goal Two: Through 2025, we commit to growing our partnerships with key stakeholders, state agencies, and industry to better identify problems Bigelow science can assist with and work to provide solutions.

Goal Type: Grow, expand, scale or increase access to the existing programs and services.


Goal Three: Through 2025, we will work to better support our scientists’ early stage discoveries and improve our education programs that train future scientists and fill workforce development needs.

Goal Type: Invest in the capacity of our organization (financial, management, technical, etc.).


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Leadership Development

The nonprofit provides evidence of investment in leadership development


Describe an investment in leadership

Bigelow is an extremely supportive environment for those who wish to gain new skills, grow professionally, or volunteer in the community. We have a Professional Development Fund available to all staff as well as committees where all staff can contribute to the organization's management. Building a cohesive Executive Team is an ongoing project that is key to leadership development and to our governance strategy. We recently built an Executive Team that includes Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Advancement, Vice President of Research and Administration, Vice President of Education, Chief Communications Officer, Director of Human Resources, and Chief Financial Officer. We have also invested in leadership development through addressing racial equity. Last year, we instituted a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liaison position to keep all of Bigelow staff at the forefront of diversity initiatives, and communicate best practices to the scientific community.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Mobilizing for Mission

The nonprofit provides evidence of leadership through focusing externally and mobilizing resources for the mission.


This organization mobilizes for mission in the following ways:
  • Strategic Partnerships

  • Networks of Collective Impact Efforts

  • Thought Leadership

  • Raising Awareness

  • Community Building

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

Focusing externally to mobilize for our mission is a key goal of our strategic plan. We envision partnering more and enhancing our network of marine science professionals. This will in turn encourage shared ownership, participation, and ongoing sustainability. Our scientists serve on committees and task forces alongside the stakeholders of our research, give presentations and talks, and publish research at a fast pace, all while integrating students into their work. We continue generating high-profile media coverage and provide opportunities for public, donor, and media engagement. For the next year, we are hosting a Gulf of Maine “EcoArts” exhibit at the laboratory – a project that features the work of Maine artists, and students and teachers from 11 Maine schools. Our Governance Committee brought on 4 new trustees to the Board and Advisory Board in October 2021, prioritizing the need for greater diversity in recruitment and complementing internal institutional efforts.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Story of Adaptability

The nonprofit has an opportunity to tell the story of how the organization adapted to tremendous external changes in the last year.


The past year was a year of struggle for how to operate a research lab given pandemic conditions. It was very important for us to keep as much of our science moving forward as possible, so that we could continue to charge against our federal and philanthropic grants. Because we were able to do this, we are doing well on the financial front. We were very conservative in our budget because of pandemic uncertainty. We worked hard to end FY20 and FY21 with modest surpluses that we reinvested into our strategic plan goals such as the Center for Algal Innovation. The Center is working with collaborators to strengthen our workforce development and professional training impacts. We were voted as one of the 2020 "Best Places to Work in Maine" by the Maine State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management. We have been doing a lot of hiring: 22 positions since the pandemic started. We completed a large, international search for new senior research scientists. As one of the few places hiring, the applicant response was incredible. Expanding our scientific staff was the number one priority for the strategic plan, so we are thrilled. We took the pandemic as an opportunity to make strides in migrating to new business office software, and diversifying our funding portfolio through revenue-generating efforts such as cryogenic preservation of seeds. We had hoped to host our docents back on campus for a half-day training in Fall 2021, as well as host a public, EcoArts exhibit opening in October, but the Delta variant has further delayed our ability to engage these generous volunteers and open our doors fully to the public. Our educational programming has persevered. We successfully completed a hybrid, virtual and in-person summer internship program with 37 undergrads for ten weeks this summer. Our 2020 impact report, available at http://impact2020.bigelow.org/, summarizes our further achievements this past year.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

...   Culture & Community


This score provides an assessment of the organization's engagement with the constituents it serves, a practice we term Constituent Feedback. When organizations listen to constituents, they are able to better deliver on programs and meet the needs of stakeholders. A future version of this Beacon will also assess an organization's people operations and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) metrics.


Culture & Community Score

Not Currently Scored

Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is currently not eligible for a Culture & Community score because we have not received its Constituent Feedback data. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile. This data will provide the basis for the initial evaluation of Culture & Community.

Note: The absence of a score does not indicate a positive or negative assessment, it only indicates that we have not yet evaluated the organization.


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Culture & Community Report

Unscored

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Constituent Feedback

Constituent Feedback


Constituent Feedback and Listening Practice data are not available for this organization. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile. This data will provide the basis for the initial evaluation of Culture & Community.


Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations that engage in inclusive practices, such as collecting feedback from the people and communities they serve, may be more effective. We award every nonprofit that completes the Candid survey full credit for this Beacon, in recognition of their willingness to publicly share this information with the nonprofit and philanthropic communities. Although the data is not evaluated for quality at this time, future iterations of this Beacon will include third party or other data that will serve to validate the information provided by the nonprofit.

Analysis and Research


Like the overall Encompass Rating System, the Culture & Community Beacon is designed to evolve as metrics are developed and ready for integration. Our partnership with Feedback Labs and Guidestar by Candid, and other partners including Fund for Shared Insight, GlobalGiving, and Keystone Accountability, enables us to launch the first version of this beacon with Constituent Feedback information collected on Candid's site.


Feedback practices have been shown to support better Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion outcomes, an essential area of assessment that we intend to further expand and develop in the future. Feedback Labs has documented several studies which indicate that beyond achieving organizational goals, nonprofits that are attentive and responsive to concerns and ideas raised by beneficiaries establish stronger relationships with the people they serve, promote greater equity, and empower constituents in ways that can help to ensure better long-term outcomes. You can find resources to help nonprofits improve their feedback practices here.

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