Mission: The mission of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera (CSO) is to inspire, engage, and enrich the greater Chattanooga community through music and music education. The CSO's community engagement and education programs strive to do just that. Our education programs send musicians into local schools and bring students to the Tivoli Theatre to inspire and encourage Chattanooga's students to love and appreciate classical music. Frequent collaborations with Chattanooga's cultural institutions and city organizations help to engage the community and further classical music and the arts. Performances in public venues, hospitals, and community celebrations enrich Chattanooga and contribute to a vibrant city.

Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1951, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  http://chattanoogasymphony.org

  736 Georgia Ave
Suite 101
Chattanooga TN 37402 

  423-267-8583


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 As a result, the Financial and Accountability & Transparency score for Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is outdated and the overall rating may not be representative of its current operations.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




Good

This charity's score is 85.62, earning it a 3-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. More recent filing data is available, but it has not been factored into this score, due to COVID-19's effect on this organization.

View this organization’s historical ratings.

Rating update postponed due to COVID-19's impact on this organization. View Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's response.


Back to Overall

Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

81.1%


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

17.3%


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

1.5%


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

21.4%


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

$0.02


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

0.16 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

0.51%


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)

Partial

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



Samantha Teter, Executive Director

$90,306 (3.50% 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 cultural or historical activities (BMF activity code: 119)


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 COVID-19 in a way that effected their financial health in 2020. This normally would have reduced their star rating. 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, and doing this pauses our revision of their rating. Charities may submit their own pandemic responses through their nonprofit portal.


Chattanooga Symphony & Opera reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Staffing


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

We received both rounds of PPP funding which allowed us to continue operating during the pandemic. We were able to keep all contract musicians, administrative staff, and all artistic staff employed (save one) but at reduced salaries during fiscal year 2021. Our support income dropped by 30% and earned income by 75%. We reduced expenses by approximately 50% from a standard year.


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

We were unable to hold full orchestra performances for safety and health reasons. Instead, we created live and virtual performances with 20 or fewer musicians. In-person audience was reduced to 100 or less per performance. We instituted several safety and health guidelines for all staff, musicians, and audience. Due to our regular performance venue being shut down by the city, we created partnerships with area churches and other venues for performances. As schools were either closed or not allowing outside groups to come in, we pivoted our education programs to virtual delivery. Our String and Wind Quintets recorded their school show, which was shared to all area music teachers to use as they saw fit. Our Young People's Concerts were recorded and shared digitally as well. Our Sensory Friendly concerts were performed in-person but primarily outdoors, or indoors with significant health and safety precautions for all.


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

As stated in our Program Delivery changes, we were able to take our regular programs and pivot them in a way that allowed for a more safe environment for all involved. We were the only major Tennessee symphony to perform live all season long. We eliminated printed programs and went digital. We eliminated printed tickets and used an RSVP list at the door. We provided audiences with masks, hand sanitizer, and did socially-distanced seating. We created several digital programs that had not been offered in the past.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

We will be lessening the amount of printed materials (brochures, programs, tickets, etc) to both help save the environment, lower costs, and lower the risk of person to person contact through the passing out of materials. As the Delta variant increases, we will continue with recommendations or requirements of mask-wearing. We may continue providing some live-streamed concerts and events, and a few smaller programs will remain or become digital.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
4/1/20202019 85.62
3/1/20202018 89.55
4/1/20192018 87.15

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

3/1/20182017 89.49
2/1/20172016 84.43
7/1/20162015 84.82
6/1/20162014 85.51
Rating Version: 2.0
9/1/20152014 82.15
2/1/20142013 85.69
10/1/20132012 82.52

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

Chattanooga Symphony & Opera 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 Chattanooga Symphony & Opera? Join the waitlist for an updated Impact & Results score.


Back to Overall

Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



Chattanooga Symphony & Opera reported its three largest programs on its FY 2019 Form 990 as:


$1,943,154

Spent in most recent FY

95%

Percent of program expenses


Live Musical Performances


$82,041

Spent in most recent FY

4%

Percent of program expenses


Youth Orchestra


$14,799

Spent in most recent FY

0%

Percent of program expenses


Educational Programs


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 Chattanooga Symphony & Opera 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


The mission of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera (CSO) is to inspire, engage, and enrich the greater Chattanooga community through music and music education. The CSO's community engagement and education programs strive to do just that. Our education programs send musicians into local schools and bring students to the Tivoli Theatre to inspire and encourage Chattanooga's students to love and appreciate classical music. Frequent collaborations with Chattanooga's cultural institutions and city organizations help to engage the community and further classical music and the arts. Performances in public venues, hospitals, and community celebrations enrich Chattanooga and contribute to a vibrant city.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

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


We believe that live orchestral music and education programs build connections across generations, inspire individuals, and transform our community into a more vibrant, exciting place to live.


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: Strengthen Organizational Capacity in order to achieve sustainability and success

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


Goal Two: Evaluate Current Programming for New Opportunities through Partnerships and Collaborations

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


Goal Three: Increase Investment in Educational/Inclusion Programs to Meet the Needs of our Community

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

Leadership staff were able to attend the annual conference of the League of American Orchestras, which was digital, in order to learn from and gather insight from our colleagues in the industry. Several sessions were focused on diversity, rebuilding after COVID, and scenario planning for the future.

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

  • Raising Awareness

  • Policy Advocacy

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

We have been increasing our partnerships and collaborations with a variety of partners throughout our community. We recently completed a program to address racial equity in our organization, and have created a new board committee for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, which will work with the community to address needs that we can meet. During COVID, the Executive Director participated in discussions with the newly formed Chattanooga NonProfit Alliance, the Chattanooga Tourism Company, Venture Forward (the nonprofit support arm of our local United Way), and ArtsBuild (our regional arts funder.) We learned from and gained support from our fellow nonprofit and arts organizations. We also participated in advocacy efforts for promoting the need for funding for arts organizations and other nonprofits through some of our partners as well as through social media.

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.


As a performing arts organization, we had to become extremely flexible and creative when it came to continuing our mission during a pandemic. We worked closely with our local musicians union to create a one-year collective bargaining agreement which allowed us to keep our contract musicians employed and performing live as safely as possible. Due to many schools being closed and online, we converted our education programs to digital formats so that we could continue to serve the thousands of schoolchildren that we typically reach each season. We implemented many safety and health protocols based on recommendations by the CDC and our county government. We sought out new partnerships with venues such as churches and parks in which to perform. Because of this, we were able to perform in several new areas of our community that we don't typically reach, including primarily African American and Hispanic/Latino communities. We learned how to operate our administrative functions in new ways with the majority of administrative staff working remotely. We are proud that we were the only major symphony in Tennessee to perform live concerts all season long.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Additional Information

Unscored

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Organization Leadership

Organization Leadership


Samantha Teter

Executive Director

Don McDowell

President

Previous: Leadership & Adaptability

...   Culture & Community


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


Culture & Community Score

Not Currently Scored

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

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


Back to Overall

Culture & Community Report

Unscored

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Constituent Feedback

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion


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


Methodology


We are utilizing data collected by Candid to document and assess the DEI practices implemented by the organization. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to fill out the Equity Strategies section of their Candid profiles to receive a rating.


Learn more about the methodology.

Constituent Feedback


Constituent Feedback and Listening Practice data are not available for this organization. Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations that engage in inclusive practices, such as collecting feedback from the people and communities they serve, may be more effective.



Methodology


We've partnered with Candid to survey organizations about their feedback practices. Nonprofit organizations can fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile to receive a rating.


Learn more about the methodology.

Analysis and Research


Like the overall Encompass Rating System, the Culture & Community Beacon is designed to evolve as metrics are developed and ready for integration. Below you can find more information about the metrics we currently evaluate in this beacon and their relevance to nonprofit performance.


Constituent Feedback


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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