Mission: Zoo Atlanta's mission is to save wildlife and their habitats through research, conservation, education and engaging experiences. The Zoo's efforts connect people to  ... (More)

Zoo Atlanta is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1986, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  http://www.zooatlanta.org

  800 Cherokee Avenue, SE
Atlanta GA 30315  

  404-624-5600


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 As a result, the Financial and Accountability & Transparency score for Zoo Atlanta is outdated and the overall rating may not be representative of its current operations.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

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 90.96, 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

89.5%


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

7.0%


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

3.4%


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

5.4%


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


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


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Efficiency

$0.05


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

3.33 years


Determines how long a charity could sustain its level of spending using its net available assets, or working capital, as reported on its most recently filed Form 990. We include in a charity's working capital unrestricted and temporarily restricted net assets, and exclude permanently restricted net assets. Dividing these net available assets in the most recent year by a charity's average total expenses, yields the working capital ratio. We calculate the charity's average total expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Program Expense Growth

2.49%


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



Raymond B. King, CEO & President

$598,912 (2.42% 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:

Museum, zoo, planetarium, etc. (BMF activity code: 060)


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

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.


Zoo Atlanta reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Staffing

  • Administrative Capacity

  • Grants Received

  • Balance Sheet


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

On March 15, 2020, Zoo Atlanta closed for two months during its spring peak attendance season, a crucial revenue time for the Zoo. Due to Zoo Atlanta’s situation of having to continue exemplary care for its animal population during the closure while its critical revenue streams dried up overnight, the Zoo’s Leadership team took immediate action to ensure the sustainability of the organization. The Zoo implemented temporary team member furloughs, layoffs and reductions in pay; received a $2.45 million forgivable Payroll Protection Program loan; liquidated $600,000 of unrestricted Endowment funds; and eliminated discretionary spending. After extensive planning, we responsibly reopened Zoo Atlanta on May 16, 2020, and implemented timed ticketing, a greatly reduced attendance capacity, a one-way path through the Zoo, social distancing, a mask requirement for guests, PPE for our team and extensive cleaning protocols.


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

Despite the difficult circumstances, Zoo Atlanta's commitment to its mission to save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education and engaging experiences never wavered. In 2020, the Zoo safely welcomed 416,123 visitors and engaged 376,707 individuals through Zoo public, school and family education programs. The Zoo's Education team worked hard to make the Zoo and its educational resources available to the public though virtual Zoo guided tours and field trips, keeper stories, online educational materials and a strong social media presence in response to the pandemic. The easy-to-use “At Home” lessons on Zoo Atlanta’s website range in content and age level and include experiences such as Animal Tails, a storybook reading with associated hands-on activities; Explore the Outdoors, a backyard scavenger hunt; and much more. Each activity is written to support students’ learning at home while engaging children in explorations of nature.


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

For the year, we cut expenses by nearly $6 million and raised an incremental $5.5 million through emergency fundraising activities. Thanks to the generous support of donors like you and the Atlanta philanthropic community, I am pleased to share that despite the loss of more than $13 million in revenues, Zoo Atlanta ended 2020 with a surplus of just over $900,000. We also submitted and closed on a $2 million Payroll Protection Program loan in February 2021, which is in addition to the $2.45 million loan we received last year and will give us some breathing room during our current low season. With the pandemic ongoing, 2021 is still filled with uncertainty. We know we will have to operate with reduced-capacity attendance and limited events and programs for some time, so we will continue to rely on the community’s friendship as we navigate the challenging COVID-19 environment.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

The Zoo’s Education department saw the pandemic as an opportunity to expedite plans to launch virtual experiences and online materials for schools and families, while the Public Events team shifted its focus to incorporate virtual event series, including a virtual cocktail hour with a Zoo expert and a virtual animal painting experience. These shifts in programming were designed to drive not only engagement but also to begin driving new virtual programming revenue streams, with some virtual programming likely to continue long-term.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
6/1/20212019 90.96
2/1/20202018 91.00
2/1/20192017 91.90
2/1/20182016 91.81
12/1/20162015 91.30
6/1/20162014 91.04
Rating Version: 2.0
12/1/20152014 86.45
5/1/20152013 86.32
12/1/20132012 86.56
12/20/20122011 84.96
4/1/20122010 85.81
9/20/20112009 85.41
Rating Version: 1.0
2/1/20112009 85.57
2/1/20102008 81.96
7/1/20092007 87.93
5/1/20082006 71.32
7/1/20062005 76.84
1/1/20062004 65.64
6/1/20042003 81.79
10/1/20032002 85.83
10/15/20022001 76.61
4/15/20022000 79.14

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

Zoo Atlanta cannot currently be evaluated by our Encompass Rating Impact & Results methodology because either (A) it is eligible, but we have not yet received data; (B) we have not yet developed an algorithm to estimate its programmatic impact; (C) its programs are not direct services; or (D) it is not heavily reliant on contributions from individual donors.

Note: The absence of a score does not indicate a positive or negative assessment, it only indicates that we have not yet evaluated the organization.

Learn more about Impact & Results.


Back to Overall

Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



Zoo Atlanta reported its three largest programs on its FY 2019 Form 990 as:


$7,387,031

Spent in most recent FY

33%

Percent of program expenses


Animal Collections


$6,778,923

Spent in most recent FY

30%

Percent of program expenses


Environmental Responsibility and Diversity Efforts


$3,088,050

Spent in most recent FY

13%

Percent of program expenses


Education and Conservation


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 Zoo 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.


Back to Overall

Leadership & Adaptability Report

100

of 100 points

Mission

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


Zoo Atlanta's mission is to save wildlife and their habitats through research, conservation, education and engaging experiences. The Zoo's efforts connect people to animals and inspire conservation action.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

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


Zoo Atlanta envisions a world where wildlife and humans flourish together.


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: In accordance with the Zoo’s Master Site Plan, build a state-of-the-art Animal Care Complex (ACC) (Animal Health/Clinic).

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


Goal Two: Make a demonstrable, meaningful impact to conservation.

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


Goal Three: Implement a program expansion that increases individuals served, geographic reach, types of experiences, and expands the depth of impact.

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


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Leadership Development

The nonprofit provides evidence of investment in leadership development


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

Zoo Atlanta's two month closure in response to the pandemic came right on the heels of the Zoo's Grand New View transformation, a disruption that temporarily strained Zoo operations and balance sheet, and it hit the Zoo at the height of its low season when liquidity is always at its lowest. The Zoo lost more than $13 million in revenue in 2020 and is operating with a reduced capacity in 2021, so the leadership team is firmly focused on the Zoo's critical operations through 2021. The leadership team worked with greatly reduced salaries for most of 2020 to ensure that the Zoo was able to weather to significant impact of the pandemic and reduced attendance, memberships, events and concessions revenue. In normal times, the Zoo has a professional development fund that is available to all staff, including leadership, to invest in professional development each year. Leadership hopes to reimplement the program in 2022.

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 Zoo has implemented several community access programs that are unique to the area and provide free admission and educational opportunities to more than 75,000 individuals from historically underserved populations each year. A few of these partnerships include the Family Library Pass Program with the Georgia Public Library Service, City of Atlanta and Fulton County Family Days, the Zoo ACCESS Program and the VSA arts of Georgia partnership. The Zoo maintains a close working relationship with Atlanta Public Schools and many other public and private school systems throughout Georgia. Zoo staff work with the GA DOE to develop an array of programs that meet education standards and bring science to life. Zoo Atlanta has numerous robust partnerships that include the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University among others. The Zoo serves as a resource for biomedical specimens, materials and data for the research community.

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.


Unlike many other challenges, which are often confined to individual industries, cities, states, regions or nations, the COVID-19 pandemic is a global and universal challenge touching the lives and livelihoods of people and organizations around the world. On March 15, Zoo Atlanta made the difficult decision to close to the public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Zoo was closed for two months during our spring peak attendance season, a crucial revenue time where the Zoo originally budgeted a $1.5 million surplus. Due to our unique situation of having to continue exemplary care for a living animal population during this crisis while our crucial revenue streams dried up overnight (admissions, Membership, events and educational programs), our Leadership team took the actions below to protect the long-term viability of the organization. • Implemented extensive temporary team member furloughs, layoffs and reductions in pay (some pay reductions were still in place at the end of 2020) • Applied and received two SBA loans established through the CARES Act (which allowed all full-time teammates and most part-time teammates to be reinstated) • Conducted emergency liquidation of $600,000 of unrestricted funds from the Zoo’s Endowment • Reallocated $250,000 of internally restricted funds for operations • Directed emergency fundraising activities with all Zoo Atlanta constituents and audiences After extensive planning, we responsibly reopened Zoo Atlanta on May 16, and we received a positive response from guests and Members regarding the safety measures we have in place. Zoo Atlanta implemented timed ticketing, a greatly reduced capacity, a one-way path through the Zoo, social distancing, required masks for guests 2 years and older, PPE for the Zoo team and extensive cleaning protocols to protect the Zoo’s team, guests and animals.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Additional Information

Unscored

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Organization Leadership

Organization Leadership


Raymond B. King

President & CEO

John Ripoll

Chairman

Previous: Leadership & Adaptability

...   Culture & Community


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


Culture & Community Score

100

out of 100

Zoo Atlanta has earned a passing score. This score has no effect on the organization's Star Rating. The organization provided data about how it listens to constituents (Constituent Feedback) (see report below).

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

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

  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: Not Scored


Back to Overall

Culture & Community Report

100

of 100 points

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

Constituent Feedback

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion


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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