Mission: Founded in 1955, the Birmingham Zoo (BZI) became a 501(c)(3) organization in 1999 with an independent Board of Directors. With approximately 550 animals comprised of 185 species, the Zoo protects and preserves endangered animals and promotes conservation. As a member Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), Birmingham Zoo ranks in the top 10% of animal exhibitors in the nation and is the only accredited zoo in Alabama. The Zoo's collection of live animals is the foundation for major programs in conservation, education and its mission, Inspiring Passion to Conserve the Natural World.

The Birmingham Zoo serves as a one of the primary conservation education resources for Alabama educators. Each year, an average of 75,000 students visit the Zoo for field trips or other educational school programs.

Birmingham Zoo is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 2001, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  http://www.birminghamzoo.com

 2630 Cahaba Road
Birmingham AL 35223 

  205-879-0409


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 96.83, earning it a 4-Star rating. Donors can "Give with Confidence" to this charity. 

This score is calculated from two sub-scores:

This score represents Form 990 data from 2019, the latest year published by the IRS.

View this organization’s historical ratings.


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Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

87.5%


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

7.4%


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

5.0%


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

8.0%


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

$0.06


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

3.35 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

4.53%


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 W-2. In some cases, these amounts may include compensation from related organizations. Read the IRS policies for compensation reporting



Christopher Pfefferkorn, President & CEO

$223,175 (1.84% of Total Expenses)


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:

Activity data not reported from the IRS


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.


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

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Staffing

  • Administrative Capacity

  • Balance Sheet


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

After a three-month closure to help reduce the spread of COVID, the Zoo reopened to visitors in June 2020. Since that time, we have seen lower ticket sales compared to previous years. The City of Birmingham cut Zoo funding by 75% for FY ’21 and FY ‘22. In spite of raising over $1.4 million for our Emergency Animal Fund, gaining over 2,500 new donors, decreasing the number of days open to the public to reduce expenses, staff layoffs and essential spending only, the Zoo is still anticipating a projected budget deficit for 2021. It costs the Zoo $30,000 per day to operate when open, including $1,000 each day to feed its animals.


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

Because of the pandemic, the Zoo was not able to have in-person field trips and activities during spring 2020. With reduced program offerings, five Education staff members were laid off in March 2020 and other Zoo employees were furloughed. When we reopened to the public in June 2020, Zoo attendance was limited, operating hours were reduced to lower expenses and summer Zoo Camp was 25% of capacity to allow campers social distancing. While the Zoo had summer Camp scholarships for students whose families met financial criteria, reduced capacity meant fewer scholarships awarded.


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

The Zoo serves as one of the primary conservation education resources for Alabama educators. Annually, an average of 75,000 students visit the Zoo for field trips or other educational school programs. The state's teachers have come to rely upon their visit to the Birmingham Zoo as a resource that meets many of the grade level requirements in the Alabama Course of Study Standards for Science. Our Education Dept. developed a menu of both prerecorded and live virtual STEM programs to support the needs of educators around the state. Scholarships for at least one Title I school in every county were available. The Birmingham Zoo’s nationally recognized ZooSchool program for Birmingham City School system 7th graders moved to a virtual format. ZooSchool sent student backpacks with basic school supplies plus a piece of snake shed, feathers from our resident lorikeets, skin print from a rhino, and two tickets to the Birmingham Zoo to 800 students.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

During the pandemic, the Birmingham Zoo began offering virtual field trip programs, called Digital Discovery Programs, to one Title 1 school in each county throughout Alabama (a total of 67 free programs). During school year 2020-2021, these free programs benefited between 3,500-4,500 students. The Zoo has received a pledge to continue free programming for school year 2021-2022. Digital Discovery Programs are also available for purchase at a reasonable rate to teachers as a standards-based curriculum resource. Since its development, digital programming has been a popular option for teachers and students, especially for those schools that must consider financial and/or transportation constraints. These programs will continue for the 2021-2022 school year. Created in 2020, ZooTeach, a professional development series for teachers, will continue with four online session for 2021-2022. Virtual access engaged participants represented many states and 3 foreign countries.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
9/1/20212019 96.83
4/1/20202018 96.18
2/1/20192017 93.98
6/1/20182016 95.94
5/1/20172015 94.44
6/1/20162014 95.91
Rating Version: 2.0
2/1/20162014 95.76
7/1/20152013 94.24
12/20/20132012 94.78
2/1/20132011 94.18
3/1/20122010 84.02
9/20/20112009 82.24
Rating Version: 1.0
2/1/20112009 78.15
4/1/20102008 78.53
7/1/20092007 88.11
6/1/20082006 98.30
12/15/20062005 93.43
9/1/20052004 95.71

...   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

Birmingham Zoo 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.


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Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



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


$10,876,332

Spent in most recent FY

98%

Percent of program expenses


MANAGEMENT OF FACILITY OPERATIONS OF THE BIRMINGHAM ZOO, SPONSORSHIP OF EDUCATIONAL, ENVIRONMENTAL, AND CONSERVATION PROGRAMS, AND PROMOTION OF THE ZOO AND ANIMAL AND HORTICULTURAL LIFE THROUGH EXHIBI ... (More)


$106,921

Spent in most recent FY

0%

Percent of program expenses


BIRMINGHAM ZOO'S EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS SERVED 8,384 INDIVIDUALS IN THE COMMUNITY THIS YEAR. THE BREAKDOWN IS AS FOLLOWS:O ZOOSCHOOL: 572 PARTICIPANTSO FIELD TRIP PROGRAM: 4219 PARTICIPANTSO HOMESCHOOL  ... (More)


$33,245

Spent in most recent FY

0%

Percent of program expenses


PUBLICATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF "ANIMAL TRACKS AND OTHER PERIODIC PUBLICATIONS.


...   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 Birmingham Zoo 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


Founded in 1955, the Birmingham Zoo (BZI) became a 501(c)(3) organization in 1999 with an independent Board of Directors. With approximately 550 animals comprised of 185 species, the Zoo protects and preserves endangered animals and promotes conservation. As a member Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), Birmingham Zoo ranks in the top 10% of animal exhibitors in the nation and is the only accredited zoo in Alabama. The Zoo's collection of live animals is the foundation for major programs in conservation, education and its mission, Inspiring Passion to Conserve the Natural World. The Birmingham Zoo serves as a one of the primary conservation education resources for Alabama educators. Each year, an average of 75,000 students visit the Zoo for field trips or other educational school programs.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

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


Creating a global community where all people value 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: Provide Exemplary Animal Care & Wellbeing

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


Goal Two: Commitment to Conservation & Research

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


Goal Three: Enhanced Education & Outreach

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


Describe an investment in leadership

The Birmingham Zoo, through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), has offered a limited number of courses with Disney Engineering Leadership Development program. Staff at all management levels have participated. The Zoo has offered professional development opportunities for staff by participating in AZA conferences, supporting research related to animal husbandry, and encouraged staff to become involved in AZA planning committees addressing pressing issues such as DEAI. An unseen benefit of the pandemic has been a near-total move of professional conferences to a virtual format. With this transition, access to those learning opportunities has become much more financially feasible, and we have been able to support the participation of a much larger number of staff in these offerings.

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

  • Policy Advocacy

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

The Birmingham Zoo has strategic partnerships with the City of Birmingham and Birmingham City School system to deliver ZooSchool. We partner with Shelby County Commission to deliver programs to Shelby Co. residents and promote special Zoo days for residents. The Zoo is active in the Blue Skies Green Spaces City of Birmingham Nonprofit Consortium. Further, the Zoo partners with universities and nonprofits - University of Alabama on a pollinator project, Tuskegee University for ZooSchool, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Nature Conservancy and Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Staff members are active within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and have presented at national conferences. For example, in 2019, BZI’s Conservation Manager presented on the Passion into Conservation Action (PiCA) program, where staff apply for grants to participate in conservation projects. BZI staff serve on national AZA committees. Annually, we lobby Congress for AZA on the Hill Day.

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 most primary and secondary schools switched to a virtual learning format, the Zoo had to pivot quickly, because this change meant the loss of on-site classes as well as field trips. These are revenue-generating programs but even more importantly, the learning and nature-immersion these programs offer are fundamental to the Zoo’s mission. Very quickly, we were able to convert a vacant office into a “studio” space, from which we delivered regular paid programming to school groups – including some from outside of our normal geographic reach, which was a positive benefit. The studio programs were enhanced by live walkabouts through different Zoo areas, with the instructor sharing relevant information and educational messages throughout the experience. Another example is the creation of a new and popular on-site program called Zoo to Myself. The constrained finances that resulted from the pandemic shutdown and the slow ongoing recovery caused the Zoo to make the difficult decision to close on Mondays and Tuesdays, instead of the previous seven-day-per-week operation, in order to save operational costs. A creative adaptation to this reduced operating schedule was the development of the Zoo to Myself program, a private experience in which up to four guests from a single household enjoyed a private golf-cart tour of the Zoo on a Monday or Tuesday. Program participants were able to learn from Animal Care Professionals via personal Keeper Chats, go behind-the-scenes for a sneak peek, and enjoy a walking tour of the South America/Primate or Predator Building.

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

100

out of 100

The score earned by Birmingham Zoo is a passing score.

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


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Culture & Community Report

100

of 100 points

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Constituent Feedback

Constituent Feedback

Full Credit


This organization reported that it is collecting feedback.


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


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

SMS text surveys, Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.)


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

To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve


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

Our staff


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

We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback


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

During our 2020 family fall festival, Hoots & Howls to maintain social distancing, a limited number of guests were admitted to the Zoo at one time. The result was long lines of guests waiting to enter the Zoo. In response to comments and seeing the long lines, the Zoo implemented timed tickets to reduce guest wait times.



Methodology


Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations that engage in inclusive practices, such as collecting feedback from the people and communities they serve, may be more effective. We've partnered with GuideStar by Candid to survey organizations about their feedback practices. Nonprofit organizations can fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile to receive a rating.


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

Analysis and Research


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


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

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