Mission: Big City Mountaineers breaks down barriers to outdoor access for youth who come from historically marginalized communities by providing a variety of nature-based experiences that are free of charge, fully outfitted, and professionally guided. In identifying the variety of barriers facing youth from marginalized communities, our programming enables them to better access the important benefits of time spent outdoors. By thoughtfully addressing these social, psychological, and material barriers, we create opportunities for youth to uncover their own sources of strength, resilience, confidence, serenity, and joy.

BCM's experiential outdoor education programs foster the transformative power of developing a personal connection with nature, and allow students to discover the strength, resilience, and adaptability they've always had inside them. BCM provides students with the tools and support to translate those skills and mindsets from the trail into the rest of their lives.

Big City Mountaineers is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1990, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  http://www.bigcitymountaineers.org/

  710 10 Street
Suite 120
Golden CO 80401 

  303-271-9200


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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 100.00, 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

85.2%


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

5.1%


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

9.6%


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

3.5%


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

$0.07


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

1.14 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

14.03%


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



Bryan Martin, Executive Director

$89,939 (8.86% 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:

Other recreational activities (BMF activity code: 318)

Combat juvenile delinquency (BMF activity code: 328)


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.


Big City Mountaineers reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Administrative Capacity

  • Grants Received

  • Balance Sheet


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

BCM has relied upon a steadfast cohort of supporters, some of whom were unable to give as a result of COVID disruptions to their business and/or livelihood. This is true of corporate, foundation, and individual supporters. Additionally, a meaningful percentage of BCM's revenue is derived from an adventure fundraising program where participants conduct peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns for trips they go on. These trips were cancelled because of COVID and therefore the organization's revenue was negatively impacted.


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

All in person programming was cancelled in 2020 due to safety and health concerns that arose because of COVID. Because Big City Mountaineers provides outdoor experiences for youth, this meant that our mission-directed work was brought to a complete halt. We feel fortunate that we could resume programming in 2021, albeit on a more limited scale.


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

Big City Mountaineers was able to leverage the federal PPP loan to retain staff throughout the pandemic. We continued to monitor state and national guidelines regarding safety measures, and created COVID policies and protocols that still govern our outdoor experiences. Additionally, the staff who worked from our headquarters office in Golden, CO shifted to remote work during COVID. All in-person fundraising events, meetings, and conferences - in addition to our youth programming - were cancelled and in many cases replaced by virtual meetings.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

Big City Mountaineers no longer requires in-person attendance at our headquarters; every staff member has the option to work remotely. Additionally, some of the partnership and supporter meetings which were successfully held over video conference will continue to be managed virtually. Programmatically, a pause in our activities gave us a chance to reflect and strategize how best to achieve outcomes with the youth we serve. We look forward to piloting innovations to our 30+ year old program model in 2022.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
11/1/20212019 100.00
12/23/20202019 97.17

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.

12/1/20192018 94.84
12/21/20182017 87.09
3/1/20182016 82.93
4/1/20172015 83.35
6/1/20162014 83.61
Rating Version: 2.0
3/1/20162014 84.84

...   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

Big City Mountaineers 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 Big City Mountaineers? Join the waitlist for an updated Impact & Results score.


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Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



Big City Mountaineers reported its largest program on its FY 2019 Form 990 as:


$866,160

Spent in most recent FY

100%

Percent of program expenses


BIG CITY MOUNTAINEERS PROVIDES FREE, FULLY OUTFITTED AND PROFESSIONALLY LED, WILDERNESS MENTORING PADDLING EXPEDITIONS, BACKPACKING TRIPS, AND OVERNIGHT CAMPS FOR YOUTH FROM UNFAIRLY MARGINALIZED AND  ... (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 Big City Mountaineers 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


TO INSTILL CRITICAL LIFE SKILLS IN UNDER-RESOURCED YOUTH THROUGH TRANSFORMATIVE WILDERNESS MENTORING EXPERIENCES.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

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


A nation transformed by youth connected to and empowered by nature.


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: Codify and systematize internal processes and practices to enable implementation of program model with fidelity and at scale

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


Goal Two: Stabilize BCM's supporter base after a year of leadership transition and external change related to the pandemic

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


Goal Three: Pilot and Implement innovations to program model that arose from planning work during the pandemic

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

Big City Mountaineers conducted a monthslong search for a new Executive Director, who began in June, 2021. The new ED has implemented a new coaching model for staff leaders, and has created space for all members of staff to assume various leadership roles within the organization.

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

  • Raising Awareness

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

Big City Mountaineers has been looked to as leaders in the DEI space within the outdoor industry. We partner with outdoor brands to advance their growth in this space.

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 the country and world shut down because of COVID in March of 2020, BCM quickly pivoted to support the communities we serve in a different way. While we provide a critical service, it became clear that our mission-directed work was not considered to be "essential" by conventional standards. BCM's longstanding commitment to increase diversity and representation in traditionally privileged spaces expanded in its relevance as the country grappled with questions of racial inequity and injustice through the summer of 2020. While we could not provide in person programming due to safety concerns, we could support the communities we serve in other ways. Most important was listening deeply to their needs and responding accordingly. Simultaneously, BCM engaged in deep internal reflection as to how we could best be of service to the communities we serve. We leveraged the pause in programming as an opportunity to critically examine our program model and innovate on 30 years of successes. In 2021, BCM successfully delivered a full program season amidst many lingering COVID-related regulations and uncertainties. We are proud that we not only were able to again serve young people at 70% of pre-COVID levels, but also that there were zero reported cases of COVID on our trips nationwide. Part of the organization's internal reflection and realignment involved a significant change in leadership; with a new Executive Director and Development Director, BCM is poised to expand our reach and impact in 2022 and beyond.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Additional Information

Unscored

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Organization Leadership

Organization Leadership


David Taus

Executive Director

Paul Thompson

Board Chair

...   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 Big City Mountaineers is a passing score. This score has no effect on the organization's Star Rating.

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?

Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Community meetings or town halls


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 make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, 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, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners


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

It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don't have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time


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

BCM is reconsidering the breadth and level of involvement of its program offerings based on feedback from our agency partners and students. In addition to offering our traditional weeklong backpacking expeditions, BCM will be piloting shorter and more easily accessible year-round program offerings, including overnights, day hikes, and even virtual sessions. We understand that a more varied approach will better meet the needs of our agency partners and the students we serve.



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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