Mission: Connecting kids with animals, strengthening families, and inspiring people to care about the world around them - this is the mission of the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo and something that zoo staff members are proud to pursue every day.

For 50 years, the zoo has carried out this mission by providing innovative and engaging exhibits, fun animal encounters, and space for quality family interaction. We also present engaging educational programs to audiences both inside and outside the zoo campus. We strive to be the best children's zoo in the nation - and serve our local community to the best of our ability - as we endeavor to provide an exemplary experience for each zoo guest.

Fort Wayne Zoological Society is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1967, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  https://kidszoo.org/

  3411 Sherman Boulevard
Fort Wayne IN 46808 

  260-427-6800


You are viewing this organization's new Charity Navigator profile page. To view the legacy version, click here.

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 99.20, 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

86.3%


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

10.4%


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

3.2%


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

8.6%


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

$0.07


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

1.90 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

7.87%


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



James Anderson, Executive Director

$194,965 (1.51% 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:

Fair (BMF activity code: 065)

Industry trade shows (BMF activity code: 207)

Other school related activities (BMF activity code: 059)


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.


Fort Wayne Zoological Society reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Staffing

  • Administrative Capacity

  • Grants Received

  • Grants Sent

  • Balance Sheet


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

Due to orders issued by our Governor, the Zoo was forced to remain closed until mid-June 2020, and then we had a 25% cap on attendance, which was moved to 50% from July 3 - the end of September. This resulted in a loss of all admissions revenue while closed and limited our ability to earn revenue once we were able to open. Because of the closure and requirement for timed tickets, we lost over 3,000 member households who chose not to renew last year. However, we were very fortunate to receive assistance through PPP and received many donations which made it possible to keep all our year-round staff employed during this time.


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

Due to restrictions placed at schools, many of our education programs went virtual during 2020, but they were still very well received. On grounds, we did have to eliminate some of our daily programs, like keeper chats, for a period of time in order to not create gatherings where social distancing couldn't be achieved. Our fundraising events were changed to meet guidelines, which meant decreasing size and increasing some costs to allow for social distancing and a higher level of sanitation practices. We also created a crew of employees once the zoo did open to the public who performed continuous cleaning of high-touch surfaces each day.


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

As mentioned above, we took many of our school programs online, and adjusted our staffing to meet the increased needs of cleaning, etc. We also reorganized some teams into A & B groups so that if an employee became ill we could quarantine a group of folks and still provide care for the animals with the other group.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

The pandemic also allowed us to change up how some of our events were carried out, dates held, or how crowds were managed and many of those things will stay on. I think we'll also keep doing some virtual engagement over the winter months forever, as it helps save time and resources.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
7/1/20212019 99.20
6/1/20212019 87.24

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

2/1/20202018 87.14
3/1/20192017 86.61
3/1/20182016 87.27
3/1/20172015 87.27
6/1/20162014 87.27
Rating Version: 2.0
12/1/20152014 87.23
6/1/20152013 85.57
6/1/20142012 86.75
3/1/20132011 83.61
2/1/20122010 84.03
9/20/20112009 88.33
Rating Version: 1.0
12/22/20102009 93.13
3/1/20102008 93.65
12/1/20082007 96.56
10/1/20072006 98.49
10/1/20062005 76.97
10/1/20052004 81.44
9/1/20042003 78.09
10/1/20032002 85.46
2/5/20032001 88.85

...   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

Fort Wayne Zoological Society 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 Fort Wayne Zoological Society? Join the waitlist for an updated Impact & Results score.


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Additional Information

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



Fort Wayne Zoological Society reported its three largest programs on its FY 2019 Form 990 as:


$1,105,921

Spent in most recent FY

10%

Percent of program expenses


EDUCATIONAL AND MEMBERSHIP SERVICES: TO ACHIEVE OUR MISSION STATEMENT THE ZOO WORKS DILIGENTLY ON LOCATION AND IN THE COMMUNITY SHARING OUR MESSAGE. SEASON ATTENDANCE (570,033) WAS IN THE TOP FIVE OF  ... (More)


$3,317,763

Spent in most recent FY

30%

Percent of program expenses


ANIMAL EXHIBITS AND IMPROVEMENTS:IN 2019, THE CANADIAN LYNX EXHIBIT SAW LOTS OF ACTIVITY WHEN THE ZOO'S LYNX PAIR GAVE BIRTH TO KITTENS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE ZOO'S HISTORY. FIRST-TIME PARENTS DID  ... (More)


$6,635,525

Spent in most recent FY

59%

Percent of program expenses


ZOO OPERATIONS:THE LARGEST EXPENSE FOR THE ZOO IS PAYROLL. THIS HOLDS TRUE FOR ALL AZA ACCREDITED FACILITIES WHERE 58% TO 62% OF EXPENSES ARE DEVOTED TO WAGES, SALARIES, AND BENEFITS. IN ADDITION TO O ... (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

100

out of 100

The score earned by Fort Wayne Zoological Society 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.


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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


Connecting kids with animals, strengthening families, and inspiring people to care about the world around them - this is the mission of the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo and something that zoo staff members are proud to pursue every day. <br><br>For 50 years, the zoo has carried out this mission by providing innovative and engaging exhibits, fun animal encounters, and space for quality family interaction. We also present engaging educational programs to audiences both inside and outside the zoo campus. We strive to be the best children's zoo in the nation - and serve our local community to the best of our ability - as we endeavor to provide an exemplary experience for each zoo guest.<br>


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

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


Our vision is for children to become good stewards of nature as they age so that, they too, will be inspired to care about the world around them. So that, they too, will work to save wildlife and wild places.


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: Create Compelling reasons for guests to visit the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, and exceed guest expectations.

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


Goal Two: Inspire people to care about animals and nature

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


Goal Three: Engage in effective conservation activities and share meaningful conservation messages.

Goal Type: This goal reflects our commitment to further our advocacy work for our organization and or cause area.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Leadership Development

The nonprofit provides evidence of investment in leadership development


Describe an investment in leadership

We invest in professional and leadership development through training offered through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as well as through department specific needs (such as animal care, finance, human resources, philanthropy, operations, guest services). We also invest in leadership development and employee engagement through programs like Gallup Employee Engagement Surveys and other areas.

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?

Because we are fortunate to have a location for guests and supporters to visit, a lot of our mobilization efforts happens on-grounds. Each exhibit is designed in a way that guests can learn about little things they can do to save animals. Moreover, we have large social media followings where we share inspirational stories, send newsletters, and more. We also work with fellow members within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to advocate for policy changes that improve animal welfare. We have many staff members who are experts in their areas and lecture at conferences and webinars, sit on nation-wide committees, and more.

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 Zoo has always operated as a lean organization, but we really looked at ways to evaluate our expenses and forecast our needs differently in 2020 than in past years. We managed costs closely to make sure the health and wellbeing of our animals was never put in jeopardy and put off non-essential expenses to make sure the essential pieces - our animals and team - were taken care of.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Additional Information

Unscored

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Organization Leadership

Organization Leadership


Rick Schuiteman

Executive Director

Chuck Surack

President

...   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

100

out of 100

The score earned by Fort Wayne Zoological Society is a passing score. This score has no effect on the organization's Star Rating.

Encompass Rating V4 provides an evaluation of an organization's Culture and Community by measuring its Constituent Feedback practices (see report below). Constituent Feedback data provides 100% of the basis for the initial evaluation of the Culture & Community Beacon.


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Culture & Community Report

100

of 100 points

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Constituent Feedback

Constituent Feedback

Full Credit


This organization reported that it is collecting feedback.


Here's how this organization is listening and learning from the people they serve:


How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Suggestion box/email


How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve


With whom does your organization share the feedback you got from the people you serve?

The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners


What challenges does your organization face in collecting feedback from the people you serve?

The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time


Briefly describe a recent change that your organization made in response to feedback from the people you serve.

2020 was a year of challenge, but one change we made due to the pandemic was the addition of "Members Only" hours. These were very well received by our Members, and while it isn't feasible to continue that practice into 2021, we are looking to add to "Members-Only Preview Days" to the beginning of the season. Another recent change, also brought on by the pandemic was an extension of our typical season. We normally closed the first weekend in October, but reopened for our popular Wild Zoo Halloween programming. We had to cancel those activities, but stayed open daily through October 31st. That was also so popular that we are looking to extend daily operations through October 31 for the 2021 season.



Methodology


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've partnered with GuideStar by 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.


Charity Navigator awards full credit for this Beacon to every nonprofit that is eligible for an Encompass Rating that completes the survey, in recognition of their willingness to publicly share this information with the nonprofit and philanthropic communities. This data is not evaluated for quality at this time. Validation will be added in future iterations of this Beacon.

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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