Mission: Founded in 1983 by Dr. Gene E. Likens, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is a leader in applying the ecosystem approach to some of society's most pressing prob ... (More)

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1993, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  http://www.caryinstitute.org

 Plant Science Building
2801 Sharon Turnpike
Millbrook NY 12545 

  Cary Institute
P.O. Box AB
Millbrook NY 12545

  845-677-5343


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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 96.45, 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. More recent filing data is available, but it has not been factored into this score, due to COVID-19's effect on this organization.

View this organization’s historical ratings.

Rating update postponed due to COVID-19's impact on this organization. View Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies's response.


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Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

76.2%


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

20.5%


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

3.1%


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

1.2%


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

$0.06


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

4.13 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

12.98%


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.
(Less)
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.
(Less)
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 Form W-2. In some cases, these amounts may include compensation from related organizations. Read the IRS policies for compensation reporting



Joshua Ginsberg, President

$310,760 (2.07% of Total Expenses)


Current CEO and Board Chair can be found in the Leadership & Adaptability report below.

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:

Other scientific research activities (BMF activity code: 199)

Other instruction and training (BMF activity code: 149)


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

This organization was impacted by COVID-19 in a way that effected their financial health in 2020. This normally would have reduced their star rating. 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, and doing this pauses our revision of their rating. Charities may submit their own pandemic responses through their nonprofit portal.


Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity


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

In April of 2020 we cancelled three fund raising events, we saw donations evaporate, our endowment lost 20% of its value, and we applied and received a PPP grant. By the time the PPP arrived in May, however, the market was in recovery, gifts had started to return, and we had decided to pivot to virtual events which we did successfully in June. We returned our PPP and have had a strong, and stable, balance sheet with a 15% decline in unrestricted giving, but with a relatively successful capital campaign (appx $5 million raised in 2019/2020/2021). We began hosting in person events in May of 2021, but have, again, suspended these events.


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

We applied to the NYS Governor’s office in April 2020 and received an exemption for critical lab work, and for field work on the Hudson River and on our property. Summer of 2020 was a disaster for most research activities but by the winter of 2020/2021 we had recovered the ability to travel regionally and do research. International travel has been abandoned during the pandemic. For 14 months we shifted our educational and outreach programs to virtual-only formats including public lectures, seminars, summer camps, and Data Jam. We cancelled our school-based programs. Several of our scientists pivoted their research on disease ecology to addressing questions related to the root cause of the pandemic, and of the spillover of corona viruses more generally. We have miles of trails on our property, which have been in high demand during the pandemic. We opened our trails early, and kept them open longer, with huge support and appreciation from the community.


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

The institution was almost completely virtual with new and expanded use of digital tools (e.g. Zoom, Slack, Miro, Google docs). People shifted from conducting field work and travel to synthesis, analysis and publications. There was a period of adapting, but it works. In-person activities were facilitated by social-distancing and other safety protocols: encouraging work from home reduced load for those who had to be in the labs and office. So far, we have no known transmission of COVID-19 on campus. An example of adaptation was a workshop we held on Urban Ecology Futures in June of 2021. The workshop was global and held virtually in two sessions: one early morning, one in the evening. Led by a professional facilitator ,and graphic facilitator, the duplicate sessions fostered smaller groups and allowed people to participate when it easier in their time zone. Finally, while everyone was out of the office anyway we launched a $13 million renovation of our HQ which is almost complete.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

The use of digital tools will continue and will be used to allow staff to be more flexible in their mode of work: with exception of those jobs that need labs, or field sites, we expect staff to be partially working from home in the future. We hope to amplify a collaborative culture while giving people greater flexibility. This will require greater mindfulness about when, and why, we are in the office, so we can ensure time for in-real-life encounters for working groups and cross-group coordination. Most of our events are likely to be hybrid in the future. During the pandemic audiences initially went up 500%, then dropped to a 250% increase as Zoom fatigue set in. Our audiences are more national, and global, and we plan to build on this. We will continue to move away from the talking head format, to one with interviews and panel discussions that low for greater audience engagement, both virtually and in real life. Donor events will go back to in-real-life, with some hybrid events.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
11/1/20202019 96.45
9/3/20192018 94.01
2/1/20192017 94.32
2/1/20182016 90.70
11/1/20162015 89.50
6/1/20162014 85.90
Rating Version: 2.0
6/1/20152014 78.08
6/1/20142013 83.48
7/1/20132012 82.24
5/1/20122011 85.08
9/20/20112010 79.28
Rating Version: 1.0
7/1/20112010 73.18
8/1/20102009 79.14
10/1/20092008 82.63
2/1/20092007 71.60
4/1/20072006 70.83
6/1/20062005 79.15
4/1/20052004 68.53
5/1/20042003 72.60
4/15/20032002 79.98
10/15/20022001 75.98

...   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

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies 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 Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies? Join the waitlist for an updated Impact & Results score.


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Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies reported its three largest programs on its FY 2020 Form 990 as:


$9,042,271

Spent in most recent FY

78%

Percent of program expenses


RESEARCH - UNBIASED ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH TO ADVANCE UNDERSTANDING OF ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE. WE PROVIDE SOLUTIONS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS. OUR STAFF ARE GLOBAL EXPERTS IN THE ECOLO ... (More)


$1,120,854

Spent in most recent FY

9%

Percent of program expenses


EDUCATION - INNOVATIVE EDUCATION PROGRAMS TO PROMOTE ECOLITERACY FOR ALL AGES. WE SERVE K-12 STUDENTS AND TEACHERS THROUGH SCHOOL PROGRAMS, SUMMER CAMP, DATA JAMS, TEACHER WORKSHOPS AND CURRICULUM. WE ... (More)


$408,723

Spent in most recent FY

3%

Percent of program expenses


OUTREACH - TRANSLATE SCIENCE IN MANY WAYS THAT ADVANCE THE PUBLIC'S UNDERSTANDING OF ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND INFORM PUBLIC POLICY. WE SHARE OUR FINDINGS WIDELY AND PROVIDE LECTURES, FORUMS, TOURS, FI ... (More)


...   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

Not Currently Scored

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is currently not eligible for a Leadership & Adaptability score because we have not received its L&A survey responses.

Note: The absence of a score does not indicate a positive or negative assessment, it only indicates that the organization has not yet submitted data for evaluation.


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Additional Information

Unscored

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Organization Leadership

Organization Leadership


Joshua R. Ginsberg

President

Scott J. Ulm

Chair

...   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

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies 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

This beta feature is currently viewable only on desktop or tablet screens. Check back later for updates.

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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