Mission: Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a wor ... (More)

Mission Blue is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 2008, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  https://www.mission-blue.org/

  P.O. Box 6882
Napa CA 94581 

  707-492-6866


 Important note on the timeliness of ratings

The IRS is significantly delayed in processing nonprofits' annual tax filings (Forms 990). As a result, the Financial and Accountability & Transparency score for Mission Blue is outdated and the overall rating may not be representative of its current operations. Please check with the charity directly for any questions you may have.

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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.




Needs Improvement

This charity's score is 75.22, earning it a 2-Star rating. Charity Navigator believes donors can "Give with Confidence" to charities with 3- and 4-Star ratings.

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.


Back to Overall

Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

61.0%


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

25.7%


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

13.2%


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

5.4%


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

$0.11


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

1.17 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

2.92%


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 can be reluctant to contribute to a charity when their name, address, or other basic information may become part of donor lists that are exchanged or sold, resulting in an influx of charitable solicitations from other organizations. Our analysts check the charity's website to see if the organization has a donor privacy policy in place and what it does and does not cover. 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



Laura Cassiani, Executive Director

$120,000 (7.76% of Total Expenses)


Dan Laffoley, Director

$16,800 (1.09% 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 2019

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:

Activity data not reported from the IRS


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.


Mission Blue reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Staffing

  • Grants Received

  • Balance Sheet


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

The organization experienced a significant drop in individual donations, grantmakers pulling back support, and as part of our mission is exploration and involves international travel, we were severely affected by the pandemic.


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

Two of our pillars are expeditions and international environmental policy. Clearly, as countries are locked down and travel restricted, our expeditions have been delayed. Another primary pillar of our work involves travel to speak with government leaders at international summits on the subject of the ocean and the environment. To keep our entire team safe from the pandemic, this has shifted entirely to virtual visits, which has greatly impacted our influence and ability to negotiate the speedy solutions needed at this time for our mission to be a success - to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030.


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

The most significant adaptation was to shift our operations from in-person to virtual meetings and conferences. All staff took a voluntary reduction in salary during 2020, in order to help keep Mission Blue afloat. Fortunately, late-year donations came in, making it possible to reverse these reductions by year end.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

Being a climate-conscious organization, and with an eye to cutting emissions, we have adjusted to virtual meetings where possible. Those savings will be significant in terms of both funding and emissions, and we will use them to further our Hope Spot programs on the ground.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
4/1/20212019 75.22
2/1/20202018 76.71
2/1/20192017 80.39
12/22/20172016 71.34
9/1/20172015 67.90

Previous: Finance & Accountability  / Next: Leadership & Adaptability

...   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

Mission Blue 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.


Back to Overall

Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



Mission Blue reported its three largest programs on its FY 2019 Form 990 as:


$454,877

Spent in most recent FY

45%

Percent of program expenses


Expeditions


$348,805

Spent in most recent FY

34%

Percent of program expenses


Outreach Education


$203,690

Spent in most recent FY

20%

Percent of program expenses


Hope Spot Global Framework


Previous: Impact & Results  / Next: Culture & Community

...   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 Mission Blue is a passing score. This score has no effect on the organization's Star Rating.

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


Back to Overall

Leadership & Adaptability Report

100

of 100 points

Mission

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


Mission Blue inspires action to explore and protect the ocean. Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots. Under Dr. Earle’s leadership, the Mission Blue team implements communications campaigns that elevate Hope Spots to the world stage through documentaries, social media, traditional media and innovative tools like Esri ArcGIS. Mission Blue also embarks on regular oceanic expeditions that shed light on these vital ecosystems and build support for their protection. With the concerted effort and passion of people and organizations around the world, Hope Spots can become a reality and form a global network of marine protected areas large enough to restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

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


Igniting public support for a global network of marine protected areas, reaching at least 30% by 2030.


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: To reach the UN Sustainable Goal of 30% ocean protection by 2030, Hope Spot programs need to be scaled, increasing support for grassroots champions and global governments who support expanded MPAs.

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


Goal Two: The leadership team at Mission Blue continually monitors the success of all programs, with an eye to scaling those that are the most effective.

Goal Type: Focus on core programs to achieve mission and scale back on programs not seen as core.


Goal Three: Mission Blue is invested in continuing to grow our programs by increasing our funder base, including bringing in more sustainable corporate partners in the next year.

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


What has gotten in the way of your oganization pursuing this investment?

Over the past 12-18 months, Mission Blue's leadership has determined that funding should go to support staff salary and other primary expenses. In this period, we have not chosen to invest in formal leadership development. Several prominent individuals on the Board of Directors have generously offered their advice in these challenging times, providing significant leadership development on an informal basis.

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

  • Policy Advocacy

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

1. Over 200 Alliance and Strategic Partners 2. Through our founder, legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, we are leaders in ocean awareness both on a policy & public level. 3. Through our Hope Spots Initiative, over 135 Hope Spots led by grassroots champions are active worldwide. 4. Through working with our strategic, affiliate and Hope Spot partners, we work on global initiatives such as marine protected areas, climate change, and biodiversity loss. 5. Our social media platforms are growing steadily and reach well over 53M people per year. We are currently looking into upgrading our current website and have integrated our Hope Spot data with the ArcGIS program at Esri. 6. and 7. Mission Blue focuses on creating marine protected areas worldwide, to reach at least 30% protection by 2030. In order to make this a reality we work with all levels of government from local to international, including working closely with the UN and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

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.


Mission Blue is navigating our way through the rough waters of 2020 and 2021 with Dr. Earle's inspiring leadership, never letting us forget that 'Now is the Time' like no other, that the world must act if we are to have a sustainable planet for future generations. The pandemic has been a constant reminder that we must live in harmony with nature, or not survive. If anything, the events of the past year have spurred us on to work even more urgently than before. It has been challenging to operate and grow our Hope Spot expedition program in the face of many countries closing their borders to travel. But the program has survived, and we have been able to stay in contact, share our local champion's inspiring stories, and even bring on new Hope Spots. The Mission Blue expeditions team has, in the past, frequently traveled globally to advise international leaders on marine protected areas in their jurisdiction, how to form coalitions and more. This has clearly been curtailed, and this has given us even more time to plan for future expeditions in 2022. With the onset of climate change becoming more and more evident, this has also been a growing focus of our work. We have been forced to rethink and reinvent how we communicate with our international partners and colleagues. Working virtually has become more effective over time, as the pandemic has caused everyone to familiarize themselves with new communications platforms. Mission Blue and Dr. Earle participate in numerous virtual meetings, both public and private, every week. All in all, Mission Blue has fared well during the pandemic. With our agile and quick-thinking leadership, we have been able to keep our heads above water and have kept the mission moving forward. We look forward to future in-person meetings, but for now, we have become quite comfortable with the challenges of how we all need to do business today.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Additional Information

Unscored

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Organization Leadership

Organization Leadership


Laura Cassiani

Executive Director

Sylvia Earle

Chairman

Previous: Leadership & Adaptability

...   Culture & Community


This score provides an assessment of the organization's culture and connectedness to the community it serves. Learn more about how and why we rate Culture & Community.


Culture & Community Score

93

out of 100

Mission Blue has earned a passing score. This score has no effect on the organization's Star Rating. The organization provided data about how it listens to constituents (Constituent Feedback) and its Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) practices (see report below).

The Culture & Community Beacon is comprised of the following metrics:

  • Constituent Feedback: 100/100 (30% of beacon score)

  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: 90/100 (70% of beacon score)


Back to Overall

Culture & Community Report

93

of 100 points

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

Constituent Feedback

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

90/100 points

70% of beacon score


This organization's score of 90 is a passing score. The organization reported that it is implementing 7 diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices. Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations implementing effective DEI policies and practices can enhance a nonprofit's decision-making, staff motivation, innovation, and effectiveness.


View this organization's DEI Strategies


Methodology


We are utilizing data collected by Candid to document and assess the DEI practices implemented by the organization. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to fill out the Equity Strategies section of their Candid profiles to receive a rating.


Learn more about the methodology.

Constituent Feedback

100/100 points

30% of beacon score


This organization reported that it is collecting feedback from the constituents and/or communities it serves. 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.


View this organization's Constituent Feedback Practices




Methodology


We've partnered with Candid to survey organizations about their feedback practices. Nonprofit organizations can fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile to receive a rating.


Learn more about the methodology.

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. Below you can find more information about the metrics we currently evaluate in this beacon and their relevance to nonprofit performance.


Constituent Feedback


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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