Mission:

The Detroit Zoological Society operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center. Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic exhibits, including the Polk Penguin Conservation C ... (More)

Detroit Zoological Society is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1958, and donations are tax-deductible.  Cause: Zoos and Aquariums


Contact Information

  http://www.detroitzoo.org

 8450 West Ten Mile Road
Royal Oak MI 48067 

  248-541-5717


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

Star Rating System


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 94.64, 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 on our legacy website.


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Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

83.6%


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

13.3%


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


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Expenses

3.0%


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

16.4%


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


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


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Efficiency

$0.05


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


Source: IRS Form 990

Working Capital Ratio

0.64 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

6.83%


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
No Material Diversion of Assets
Audited Financials Prepared by Independent Accountant
Does Not Provide Loan(s) to or Receive Loan(s) From Related Parties
Documents Board Meeting Minutes
Distributes 990 to Board Before Filing
Compensates Board

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
Whistleblower
Records Retention and Destruction
CEO Compensation Process
Donor Privacy

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
Board of Directors Listed on Website
Key Staff Listed on Website
Audited Financial Statements on Website
Form 990 Available on Website

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 up to five of this organization's highest compensated employees. This compensation data includes salary, cash bonuses, and expense accounts and is displayed exactly how it is reported to the IRS. The amounts include salary, cash bonuses, and expense accounts. The amounts do not include nontaxable benefits, deferred compensation, or other amounts not reported on Form W-2. Read the IRS policies for compensation reporting



RON L KAGAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/CEO

$468,968


SCOTT F CARTER, CHIEF LIFE SCIENCE OFFICER

$237,539


JEFFREY EVANS, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

$222,068


GERRY VANACKER, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

$220,253


JANE ALESSANDRINI, CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

$201,014


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:

Other school related activities (BMF activity code: 059)


Foundation Status:

Organization that normally receives no more than one-third of its support from gross investment income and unrelated business income and at the same time more than one-third of its support from contributions, fees, and gross receipts related to exempt purposes.  509(a)(2) (BMF foundation code: 16)


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 the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that affected their financial health. 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.


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

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Staffing

  • Administrative Capacity


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

The Detroit Zoo was closed to the public from March 16, 2020 through June 8, 2020. Upon opening, daily maximum guest capacity was reduced by 90+%, and remains limited today. For calendar 2020, this caused a 57% reduction in earned revenue, and a 40% overall budget reduction. The DZS obtained PPP funding to help lessen the impact of this major (and unexpected) reduction in revenue.


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

Being as we were unable to provide live, on-site programming for much of 2020, we moved our educational programming to the internet. Virtual Ventures is a free virtual educational program that includes exciting animal-related content, expert interviews, hands-on activities, and much more. We also created Virtual Vitamin Z lessons, with fun and engaging animal topics. All of this was completed with a major reduction in resources.


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

The safety of our guests and resident animals were of utmost importance in 2020. In addition to reductions to the number of daily guests, we added timed ticketing, which provided guests with a specific time to enter the park. This ensured a safe and socially-distanced experience for all who visit the Detroit Zoo. We also covered our 125 acres with social distancing markers and hand sanitizing stations, so that guests could safely enjoy their Zoo experience.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

Our new virtual educational content is here to stay. By moving our educational content to the internet, and by creating new virtual learning programs, we are able to impact more children and families than ever before. We will also keep our timed entry program, as it helps guests enter the park more safely and efficiently, providing a better guest experience.


...   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

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


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Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



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


$14,042,337

Spent in most recent FY

36%

Percent of program expenses


ANIMAL CARE, WELFARE AND CONSERVATION: The Detroit Zoological Society continues its purpose of celebrating and saving wildlife by demonstrating leadership in animal care, wildlife conservation and ani ... (More)


$5,150,777

Spent in most recent FY

13%

Percent of program expenses


EDUCATION: The Detroit Zoological Society continues to provide a broad audience with outstanding and unique educational opportunities that lead to the appreciation and stewardship of nature. Humane ed ... (More)


$16,701,822

Spent in most recent FY

43%

Percent of program expenses


GUEST ENGAGEMENT: The Detroit Zoological Society continues to inspire the community with engaging, meaningful and memorable experiences. Significant animal habitats/facilities include the Arctic Ring  ... (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 Detroit Zoological Society is a passing score.

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


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Leadership & Adaptability Report

100

of 100 points

Mission

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


The Detroit Zoological Society operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center. Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic exhibits, including the Polk Penguin Conservation Center and Arctic Ring of Life, the Detroit Zoo houses over 2,100 animals of 230 different species. The Belle Isle Nature Center encompasses 20 acres of forested wetlands with nature trails, a lodge and live animal exhibits focusing on Michigan wildlife. The Belle Isle Nature Center focuses on Michigan wildlife, flora and fauna, and offers family nature programs and education programs for schools and community groups.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

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


Celebrating and Saving 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: Inspire our diverse community with engaging, meaningful, memorable experiences, and equitable education opportunities that lead to the appreciation and stewardship of nature.

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


Goal Two: Celebrate and value biodiversity and human diversity, while ensuring that our audience, staff and volunteers reflect the multicultural fabric that is the strength of our community.

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


Goal Three: Provide innovative facilities and programs that contribute to the region's economic vitality.

Goal Type: New program(s) based on observed changes in needs among our constituencies/communities served.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Leadership Development

The nonprofit provides evidence of investment in leadership development


Describe an investment in leadership

The leadership team has taken part in a number of professional development sessions around diversity and inclusion. All leaders and managers also attend Detroit Zoological Society University (DZSU) classes, which is an internal training program to further the teams leadership skills.

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?

The DZS has a number of partnerships locally, nationally and internationally to help further its mission of "Celebrating and Saving Wildlife & Wild Places." Also, as an active member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the DZS helps raise awareness to and make meaningful impact on conservation, animal welfare, sustainability, and educational issues across the world.

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.


When the COVID-19 pandemic started, the DZS anticipated significant future revenue losses, which led to drastic changes to its operations and operating structure. This included significant staffing reductions, down to only those essential to keep the business operational at a base level. Overall, employee headcount was reduced by almost 50%, with the remaining staff furloughed between 10% and 30%. These decisions allowed us to survive the worst of the pandemic. Much of the staff has been subsequently restored, but the organization is still operating with a far smaller budget than pre-pandemic. The DZS did receive PPP funding, which helped lessen the impact of the pandemic and allowed us to retain more staff than we otherwise could have. During the pandemic, the two areas that required us to change and adapt the most were guest/animal safety and educational programming. We had to ensure that both guests and animals were safe and socially-distanced, and also needed to continue providing educational content to the community (even though they could not be on grounds). To help keep our guests safe, we have maintained daily capacity levels at a lower level than what was required of us by state and federal guidelines. We also implemented a timed ticketing program, which helps keep guests socially-distanced throughout the park and limit the amount of guests at the gate at one time. Hundreds of social distance markers were placed in the park, as well as 100 hand-sanitizing stations. Our "Virtual Ventures" and "Virtual Vitamin Z" programs were implemented early in the pandemic, providing unique and engaging daily content for the community that we serve. These programs were provided free of charge with exciting animal-related content, expert interviews, hands-on activities, and many other lessons with fun and engaging animal topics.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

...   Culture & Community


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


Culture & Community Score

Not Currently Scored

Detroit Zoological Society 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

Not Scored

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.