Mission: The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) designs, restores, and creates wetlands. We innovate, collaborate, and employ sound science to improve water quality, habitat for plants and wildlife, and our climate.

TWI was founded in 1994 to reverse the environmental damage created by the drainage of valuable wetlands in the U.S. Midwest. Today TWI works as a "conservation entrepreneur" to develop new methods and strategies for restoring our lost wetland ecosystems.

The Wetlands Initiative is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1999, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  http://www.wetlands-initiative.org

  53 West Jackson Boulevard
Suite 1015
Chicago IL 60604 

  312-922-0777


 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 As a result, the Financial and Accountability & Transparency score for The Wetlands Initiative is outdated and the overall rating may not be representative of its current operations.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.




Exceptional

This charity's score is 100.00, 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.


Back to Overall

Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

85.3%


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

6.9%


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

7.7%


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

9.6%


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

$0.06


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

3.87 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

15.35%


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



Paul R. Botts, President

$131,147 (5.48% 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:

Described in section 170(b)1)(a)(vi) of the Code (BMF activity code: 994)

Other scientific research activities (BMF activity code: 199)


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.


The Wetlands Initiative reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery


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

For the Wetlands Initiative (TWI), FY2020 was a strong year financially. Because of public health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, some of our planned program activities for that year had to be postponed, and restricted funds for those activities were rolled over into FY2021. As a result, FY2020 program expenses, as a percentage of total expenses, were lower than in prior years. In FY2019, for example, program expenses were 85% of total expenses; in FY2020, they were 77% of total expenses. The rolled-over restricted funds are expected to be spent in FY2021 when the postponed program activities are undertaken. Because of this shift, we expect that program expenses in FY2021, as a percentage of total expenses, will actually be higher than usual as we catch up on planned activities at our ecosystem restoration project sites.


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

Compared to many non-profits, the Wetlands Initiative (TWI) was lucky to be only slowed a bit by COVID-19 in FY2020, not stopped from fulfilling our mission. Most of our staff work in the field at ecosystem restoration project sites and they were able to continue to do much of their work, although we evaluated all of their regular tasks and made adjustments to protect everyone's health (e.g., no sharing of tools). However, there were some restoration activities planned for FY2020 that could not be adapted in a COVID-safe way and they were postponed. Nevertheless, we made significant progress on all of our projects during the year and some projects even expanded.


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

The part of the Wetlands Initiative (TWI) most affected during the pandemic has been the office-based staff, though once again we were lucky in that their jobs have been minimally disrupted. Most of the office-based staff started working from home at the beginning of the pandemic, which required getting everyone set up with the right equipment at home and developing strategies to make sure everyone was communicating regularly and easily. The transition was smooth and did not affect productivity or a sense of community at TWI. Importantly, no staff lost their job during the pandemic; we even created a new staff position as project work expanded.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

Because the Wetlands Initiative (TWI) has always had staff and project partners located in different geographic areas, we are accustomed to not seeing each other regularly in person. Since COVID-19, with Zoom and other platforms, we're actually more in touch than before and intend to keep using these methods of communication regularly even after the pandemic to support project progress. These methods of communication have also strengthened relationships with board members and funders/donors.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
5/1/20212019 100.00
10/1/20192018 99.91
12/1/20182017 99.46
2/1/20182016 94.80
2/1/20172015 90.82
7/1/20162014 93.91
6/1/20162014 93.29

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.

Rating Version: 2.0
12/1/20152014 94.04
5/1/20152013 83.97
11/1/20132012 90.10
12/1/20122011 81.21
12/1/20112010 84.75
9/20/20112009 81.95
Rating Version: 1.0
12/22/20102009 76.97
2/1/20102008 88.61
11/1/20082007 91.44
11/1/20072006 86.09
12/1/20062005 82.94
10/1/20052004 82.93
8/1/20042003 91.34
12/1/20032002 93.93
10/15/20022001 94.86

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

The Wetlands Initiative 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 The Wetlands Initiative? Join the waitlist for an updated Impact & Results score.


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Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



The Wetlands Initiative reported its two largest programs on its FY 2019 Form 990 as:


$1,716,712

Spent in most recent FY

84%

Percent of program expenses


On the Ground Restoration


$313,869

Spent in most recent FY

15%

Percent of program expenses


Growing Wetlands for Clean Water Project


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 The Wetlands Initiative 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


The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) designs, restores, and creates wetlands. We innovate, collaborate, and employ sound science to improve water quality, habitat for plants and wildlife, and our climate.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

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


A world with plentiful healthy wetlands improving water quality, climate, biodiversity, and human well-being.


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: Grow our ecosystem restoration projects on both the Illinois and Indiana sides of the Calumet region, an important wetland area heavily marked by industrial development.

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


Goal Two: Increase adoption of constructed wetlands in the Midwest Farm Belt to reduce the nutrient pollution that causes "dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.

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


Goal Three: Grow and diversify our board of directors across a range of demographic characteristics including age, gender, race/ethnicity, location, and life experience.

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

The field of conservation has long been known for its lack of diversity and, particularly since the events of 2020, there's been an emphasis on changing that. Along with other executive directors from Chicago-area environmental organizations, Wetlands Initiative Executive Director Paul Botts recently completed a professionally facilitated equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) course. This was an important step in reconsidering how we recruit both staff and board members and also how we engage the communities where our ecosystem restoration projects are located, in both rural and urban 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

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

Ecosystem restoration on a landscape scale (hundreds or even thousands of acres) requires working in partnership with others, because of the scope and duration of projects. For every Wetlands Initiative project we engage in a range of strategic partnerships. For our work in the Illinois/Indiana Calumet region, for example, that has meant working hand in hand with public entities like the Chicago Park District and the city of Gary, Indiana; other non-profits like Audubon Great Lakes; and corporations like NIPSCO. Each partner has a key role to play to ensure success of the project long-term, even after the Wetlands Initiative has completed intensive restoration of a site.

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 Wetlands Initiative has been a lucky non-profit as our ecological restoration projects have been minimally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While we have implemented safety and health protocols for staff both in the field and in the office, we've been able to continue our restoration projects and, during this time, some have even expanded. Perhaps the biggest challenge beyond keeping everyone healthy has been ensuring regular, meaningful communication among staff, something we always have had to pay attention to given the distant geographic locations of different projects. Many of the communication methods and tools that emerged during COVID have been very helpful to us and we'll continue to use them even after COVID.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Additional Information

Unscored

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Organization Leadership

Organization Leadership


Paul Botts

Executive Director

Caroline Repenning

Chair

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

Not Currently Scored

The Wetlands Initiative is currently not eligible for a Culture & Community score because we have not received its Constituent Feedback or Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion data. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to fill out the How We Listen and Equity Practices sections of their Candid profile.

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.


Back to Overall

Culture & Community Report

Unscored

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Constituent Feedback

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion


This organization has not provided information regarding the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices it is presently implementing. As such, the organization has not earned a score on this metric. Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations implementing effective DEI policies and practices can enhance a nonprofit's decision-making, staff motivation, innovation, and effectiveness.


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


Constituent Feedback and Listening Practice data are not available for this organization. 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.



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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