Mission: Trees Atlanta is a nationally recognized citizens group that protects and improves Atlanta's urban forest by planting, conserving and educating. Founded in 1985, Tre ... (More)

Trees Atlanta is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1984, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  https://treesatlanta.org/

 225 Chester Avenue, SE
Atlanta GA 30316 

  404-522-4097


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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 95.80, 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 2020, 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

85.0%


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

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

4.4%


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

20.0%


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

$0.03


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


Source: IRS Form 990

Working Capital Ratio

4.06 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

6.57%


We compute the average annual growth of program expenses using the following formula: [(Yn/Y0)(1/n)]-1, where Y0 is a charity's program expenses in the first year of the interval analyzed, Yn is the charity's program expenses in the most recent year, and n is the interval of years passed between Y0 and Yn.


Source: IRS Form 990

Governance


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990 that the organization has these governance practices in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990

Governance:
Independent Voting Board Members  ... (More)
No Material Diversion of Assets ... (More)

A diversion of assets – any unauthorized conversion or use of the organization's assets other than for the organization's authorized purposes, including but not limited to embezzlement or theft – can seriously call into question a charity's financial integrity. We check the charity's last two Forms 990 to see if the charity has reported any diversion of assets. If the charity does report a diversion, then we check to see if it complied with the Form 990 instructions by describing what happened and its corrective action. This metric will be assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Full Credit: There has been no diversion of assets within the last two years.

  • Partial Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity has used Schedule O on the Form 990 to explain: the nature of the diversion, the amount of money or property involved and the corrective action taken to address the matter. In this situation, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity's explanation on Schedule O is either non-existent or not sufficient. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
(Less)
Audited Financials Prepared by Independent Accountant ... (More)

Audited financial statements provide important information about financial accountability and accuracy. They should be prepared by an independent accountant with oversight from an audit committee. (It is not necessary that the audit committee be a separate committee. Often at smaller charities, it falls within the responsibilities of the finance committee or the executive committee.) The committee provides an important oversight layer between the management of the organization, which is responsible for the financial information reported, and the independent accountant, who reviews the financials and issues an opinion based on its findings. We check the charity's Form 990 reporting to see if it meets this criteria.

  • Full Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant with an audit oversight committee.

  • Partial Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant, but it did not have an audit oversight committee. In this case, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: The charity did not have its audited financials prepared by an independent accountant. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
(Less)
Does Not Provide Loan(s) to or Receive Loan(s) From Related Parties ... (More)
Documents Board Meeting Minutes ... (More)
Distributes 990 to Board Before Filing ... (More)
Compensates Board ... (More)

Policies


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization has these policies in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Policies:
Conflict of Interest  ... (More)
Whistleblower ... (More)
Records Retention and Destruction ... (More)
CEO Compensation Process ... (More)
Donor Privacy ... (More)

Donors have expressed extreme concern about the use of their personal information by charities and the desire to have this information kept confidential. The exchanging and sale of lists for telemarketing and the mass distribution of "junk mail," among other things, can be minimized if the charity assures the privacy of its donors. Privacy policies are assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Yes: This charity has a written donor privacy policy published on its website, which states unambiguously that (1) it will not share or sell a donor's personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations or (2) it will only share or sell personal information once the donor has given the charity specific permission to do so.

  • Opt-out: The charity has a written privacy policy published on its website which enables donors to tell the charity to remove their names and contact information from lists the charity shares or sells. How a donor can have themselves removed from a list differs from one charity to the next, but any and all opt-out policies require donors to take specific action to protect their privacy.
  • No: This charity either does not have a written donor privacy policy in place to protect their contributors' personal information, or the existing policy does not meet our criteria.

The privacy policy must be specific to donor information. A general website policy which references "visitor" or "user" personal information will not suffice. A policy that refers to donor information collected on the website is also not sufficient as the policy must be comprehensive and applicable to both online and offline donors. The existence of a privacy policy of any type does not prohibit the charity itself from contacting the donor for informational, educational, or solicitation purposes.

(Less)

Transparency


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization makes this information easily accessible.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Transparency:
CEO Salary Listed on 990 ... (More)
Board of Directors Listed on Website ... (More)
Key Staff Listed on Website ... (More)
Audited Financial Statements on Website ... (More)
Form 990 Available on Website ... (More)

Additional Information

Unscored

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Total Revenue and Expenses

Total Revenue and Expenses

This chart displays the trend of revenue and expenses over the past several years for this organization, as reported on their IRS Form 990.

Salary of Key Persons

Presented here are this organizations key compensated staff members as identified by our analysts. This compensation data includes salary, cash bonuses and expense accounts and is displayed exactly how it is reported to the IRS. The amounts do not include nontaxable benefits, deferred compensation, or other amounts not reported on Form W-2. In some cases, these amounts may include compensation from related organizations. Read the IRS policies for compensation reporting



Greg Levine, Co-Executive Director, Chief Program Officer

$121,973 (2.70% of Total Expenses)


Connie Veates, Co-Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer

$119,953 (2.65% of Total Expenses)


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

Source: IRS Form 990 (page 7), filing year 2020

Business Master File Data

Below are some key data points from the Exempt Organization IRS Business Master File (BMF) for this organization. Learn more about the BMF on the IRS website


Activities:

Other activity aimed t combating community deterioration (BMF activity code: 402)

Community recreational facilities (park, playground, etc) (BMF activity code: 297)


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).

Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
9/1/20212020 95.80
6/1/20202019 100.00
6/1/20192018 99.89
6/1/20182017 99.30
7/1/20172016 98.86
6/1/20162015 96.59
Rating Version: 2.0
9/1/20152014 93.73
7/1/20142013 97.03
4/1/20132012 89.32
3/1/20132011 79.63
5/1/20122011 79.04

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

9/20/20112010 84.87
Rating Version: 1.0
7/1/20112010 79.78
6/1/20102009 85.63
8/1/20092008 98.31
9/1/20082007 92.75
5/1/20072006 98.67
5/1/20062005 89.24
7/1/20052004 82.45
6/1/20042003 82.44
4/1/20042002 78.20

...   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

50

out of 100

Trees Atlanta is , earning a failing score. This score has no effect on the organization's Star Rating.


Impact

$56,000 offsets one year of personal carbon emissions.



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Impact & Results Report

50

of 100 points


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Rated Program

Rated Program


Program

NeighborWoods

Activities

The nonprofit plants trees in urban areas.

Program Type

Beneficiaries Served

Program Geography

Time Period of Data


Learn how we assess the impact of nonprofits

Outcomes and Cost

Outcomes: Changes in the lives of those served by a nonprofit. They can be caused by the nonprofit.

Costs: The money spent by a nonprofit and its partners and beneficiaries.

Impact: Outcome caused by a nonprofit relative to its cost.

Cost-effectiveness: A judgment as to whether the cost was a good use of resources to cause the outcome.


Outcome Metric


Outcome Data Source

Ratings are based on data the nonprofit itself collects on its work. We use the most recent year with sufficient data. Typically, this data allows us to calculate direct changes in participants' lives, such as increased income.


Output data collected during the program. The nonprofit publicly reports the number and location of trees it plants, which we use to calculate the number of years of personal carbon emissions offset.


Method for Attributing Outcomes

We don't know if the observed changes were caused by the nonprofit's program or something else happening at the same time (e.g., a participant got a raise). To determine causation, we take the outcomes we observe and subtract an estimate of the outcomes that would have happened even without the program (i.e., counterfactual outcomes).


We estimate the number of years of carbon emissions the nonprofit offsets by comparing the trees actually planted by the nonprofit to the trees that would have been planted in the absence of the nonprofit (the “counterfactual”). Some trees would have been planted even without the nonprofit, such as by the government or other nonprofits; these counterfactual successes must be netted out of the successes we observe. Otherwise, we would be attributing a change (carbon emissions offset) to the nonprofit when it would have happened anyway. Few nonprofits estimate the counterfactual themselves, so we construct our own counterfactual estimate based on research and publicly available data. We use the percentage of plantable land left where the nonprofit works to calculate the probability of displacing the efforts of other organizations. We net out that change from the changes we observe to get a correct estimate of impact.


Cost Data Source

After estimating the program's outcomes, we need to determine how much it cost to achieve those outcomes. All monetary costs are counted, whether they are borne by a nonprofit service deliverer or by the nonprofit’s public and private partners.


Program cost data reported by the nonprofit. Partner and beneficiary costs reported by the nonprofit or estimated by Charity Navigator.


Impact and Determination

We calculate impact, defined as the change in outcomes attributable to a program divided by the cost to achieve those outcomes.

Impact Statement

$56,000 offsets one year of personal carbon emissions.

Benchmark for Rating

Impact & Results scores of tree planting programs are based on the cost offsetting a year of personal carbon emissions relative to the social cost of carbon. Programs receive an Impact & Results score of 100 if they offset a year of personal carbon emissions for 75% of the social cost of carbon averted and a score of 75 for 125%. If a nonprofit reports impact but doesn't meet the threshold for cost-effectiveness, it earns a score of 50.

Determination

Nonprofit Comment

Before publishing, we ask every nonprofit we can to review our work, offer corrections and provide a comment.


This nonprofit did not provide a comment

Analysis Details


Analysis conducted by ImpactMatters and published on November 22, 2019.

Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



Trees Atlanta reported its largest program on its FY 2020 Form 990 as:


$3,711,876

Spent in most recent FY

100%

Percent of program expenses


TREES ATLANTA HELPS CITIZENS PROTECT AND CARE FOR TREES AND ALSO EDUCATES YOUNG PEOPLE AND ADULTS ABOUT THE VALUE OF OUR URBAN FOREST. IN THE 2019/2020 PLANTING SEASON, TREES ATLANTA PLANTED AND CARED ... (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 Trees Atlanta 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


Founded in 1985, Trees Atlanta is a nationally recognized nonprofit citizens’ group that protects and improves Atlanta’s urban forest by planting, conserving, and educating. We’ve been awarded Charity Navigator’s 4 Star rating for eight consecutive years. What began as a small community effort to plant 46 trees on downtown’s Carnegie Way has grown into a nationally recognized and respected environmental nonprofit that has planted more than 147,000 trees throughout the Atlanta area. While our impact has grown exponentially, Trees Atlanta’s mission remains central to our identity. Powered by a combination of passionate staff, a dedicated community of volunteers and valued community partnerships with entities such as Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., Atlanta Botanical Garden and The Conservation Fund, Trees Atlanta is working to conserve more than 30 forests across the city and serving a record number of youth and adults through its educational and workforce development programming.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

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


In a year of important conversations around health, our economy, and racial justice and equity, Trees Atlanta continues to believe that our mission and work remains relevant. During this fiscal year Trees Atlanta will strive to plant over 7,000 trees, perform restoration work in 500+ acres of forested land, educate 10,000 youth through our camps and K-12 curriculum, hire 50 high school students into our Youth Tree Team workforce development program and engage volunteers in more than 20,000 hours of service. Our aim is to create a community where residents and the natural world coexist in a thriving urban ecosystem that addresses environmental injustices, increases air quality, fosters better health outcomes, facilitates more job opportunities, invites more social engagement, and creates safer and healthier neighborhoods.


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: Bring the Trees Atlanta Family Together in One Home - to achieve long-term operational efficiency and organizational effectiveness, economies of scale and an enriched culture.

Goal Type: Invest in the capacity of our organization (financial, management, technical, etc.).


Goal Two: Integrate and Enhance Programs and Initiatives – to be relevant and useful to the communities we serve; lower barriers to participation; and apply natural solutions to urban development challenges.

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


Goal Three: Strengthen Existing Partnerships and Build New Relationships – by understanding the unique needs and expectations of the residents and communities we serve in the context of Trees Atlanta’s mission.

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

Faced with the social and racial unrest over the past 18 months, Trees Atlanta focused much of our leadership development in the areas of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Community Engagement. We kicked off a Community Engagement Task Force and hired Ginneh Baugh, VP of Purpose Built Communities to run an all-staff community engagement ideation session. We also hired Ivan Pelt Consulting Group to run an inclusion & unconscious bias training session for all managers. In addition we offered all staff members the opportunity to participate in the United Way 21-day Racial Equity Challenge, a 7-week self-guided learning experience exploring the history and impact of racism and how it has shaped the well-being of our communities across Greater Atlanta. Finally, all staff members were invited to participate in the Arbor Day Foundation's Alliance for Community Trees training on environmental justice.

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?

Trees Atlanta cannot fulfill its mission without fostering dynamic community partnerships with numerous businesses, organizations, and community groups partners – which number more than 125. Trees Atlanta works regularly with local neighborhoods and grassroots organizations on targeted tree planting and conservation efforts. In 2015 Trees Atlanta led the formation of the Atlanta Canopy Alliance, a group of local nonprofits dedicated to enhancing and preserving Atlanta’s tree canopy through education, advocacy, and other collective efforts. The alliance has been instrumental in lobbying for amendments to the City of Atlanta Tree Protection Ordinance. Trees Atlanta launched the One Million Tree Initiative in 2020 - an innovative collaboration of 10+ metro Atlanta cities and 10+ Atlanta-based nonprofits. This initiative advances a shared sense of urgency that collectively we can and must lead metro Atlanta’s fight against climate change and environmental stresses from urban growth.

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.


Shortly after the Board of Directors’ Strategic Planning session in early 2020, the nation began to be significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Trees Atlanta quickly focused on two key strategies: 1) to keep employees meaningfully employed, and 2) to continue to fulfill Trees Atlanta’s mission. Although many short-term adjustments were made to meet the immediate needs required to respond to the pandemic, the organization remained dedicated to the long-term goals of its existing strategic plan. Short term adjustments included: 1) The cancellation of our annual Root Ball fundraising gala in 2020 and moving it to an online format in 2021. 2) Cancelling our Youth Summer Camps in 2020 and resuming them in 2021 under strict safety protocols. 3) Moving all in-person education to virtual on-line in 2020 and implementing a hybrid approach in 2021. 4) Moving our annual spring plant sale and fall tree sale online in 2020 and implementing a hybrid solution in 2021. 5) Applying for and receiving one of the first PPP Loans during Phase I. We opted not to apply for Phase II. 6) Initiating smaller volunteer and corporate group tree planting, care & restoration projects based on social distancing guidelines and personal protection policies. To address the topic of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Trees Atlanta sought input from staff, volunteers, and donors, asking: what is done well and what can be improved? A consistent suggestion was for Trees Atlanta to deepen and broaden the ways it reaches out to and engages diverse community members and to review how it collaborates with existing organizations representing historically disenfranchised areas. Trees Atlanta’s employees expressed a desire to learn more about how they can work better with and within the communities they serve. Internal workshops with employees have already begun to address these issues. Our strategic plan includes early takeaways identified from those conversations which will continue in the years ahead.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Additional Information

Unscored

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Organization Leadership

Organization Leadership


Connie Veates and Greg Levine

Co-Executive Directors

Trish Treadwell

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

Not Currently Scored

Trees Atlanta 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

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Constituent Feedback

Constituent Feedback


Constituent Feedback and Listening Practice data are not available for this organization. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile. This data will provide the basis for the initial evaluation of Culture & Community.


Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations that engage in inclusive practices, such as collecting feedback from the people and communities they serve, may be more effective. We award every nonprofit that completes the Candid survey full credit for this Beacon, in recognition of their willingness to publicly share this information with the nonprofit and philanthropic communities. Although the data is not evaluated for quality at this time, future iterations of this Beacon will include third party or other data that will serve to validate the information provided by the nonprofit.

Analysis and Research


Like the overall Encompass Rating System, the Culture & Community Beacon is designed to evolve as metrics are developed and ready for integration. Our partnership with Feedback Labs and Guidestar by Candid, and other partners including Fund for Shared Insight, GlobalGiving, and Keystone Accountability, enables us to launch the first version of this beacon with Constituent Feedback information collected on Candid's site.


Feedback practices have been shown to support better Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion outcomes, an essential area of assessment that we intend to further expand and develop in the future. Feedback Labs has documented several studies which indicate that beyond achieving organizational goals, nonprofits that are attentive and responsive to concerns and ideas raised by beneficiaries establish stronger relationships with the people they serve, promote greater equity, and empower constituents in ways that can help to ensure better long-term outcomes. You can find resources to help nonprofits improve their feedback practices here.

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