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Research and Public Policy : Non-Medical Science & Technology Research

Lowell Observatory

Pursuing the study of astronomy

three stars

88.01

1400 West Mars Hill Road Flagstaff, AZ 86001
tel: (928) 774-3358   Web Site
EIN: 86-0098918

Board Leadership
W. Lowell Putnam, IV
President

CEO
Jeffrey Hall
Director

  Score
(out of 100)
Rating
Overall Score & Rating 88.01 three stars
  Financial 92.10 four stars
  Accountability & Transparency 85.00 three stars
This rating was published 05/01/2021 and includes data from FY2019, the most recent 990 received at that time.

The mission of Lowell Observatory is to pursue the study of astronomy, especially the study of our solar system and its evolution; to conduct pure research in astronomical phenomena; and to maintain quality public education and outreach programs to bring the results of astronomical research to the public. Founded in 1894, the Observatory has been the site of many important findings including the discovery of the large recessional velocities (redshift) of galaxies by Vesto Slipper in 1912-1914, and the discovery of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. Today, Lowell's 20 astronomers use ground-based telescopes around the world, telescopes in space, and NASA planetary spacecraft to conduct research in diverse areas of astronomy and planetary science. The Observatory welcomes more than 75,000 visitors each year for tours, telescope viewing, and special programs.

The mission of Lowell Observatory is to pursue the study of astronomy, especially the study of our solar system and its evolution; to conduct pure research in astronomical phenomena; and to maintain quality public education and outreach programs to bring the results of astronomical research to the public. Founded in 1894, the Observatory has been the site of many important findings including the discovery of the large recessional velocities (redshift) of galaxies by Vesto Slipper in 1912-1914, and the discovery of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. Today, Lowell's 20 astronomers use ground-based telescopes around the world, telescopes in space, and NASA planetary spacecraft to conduct research in diverse areas of astronomy and planetary science. The Observatory welcomes more than 75,000 visitors each year for tours, telescope viewing, and special programs.

Financial

four stars

92.10

Accountability & Transparency

three stars

85.00

This rating was published 05/01/2021 and includes data from FY2019, the most recent 990 received at that time.
Overall Rating Chart
  Program Expenses
(Percent of the charity's total expenses spent on the programs
and services it delivers)
81.0%
  Administrative Expenses 9.9%
  Fundraising Expenses 9.0%
  Fundraising Efficiency $0.06
  Working Capital Ratio (years) 2.89
  Program Expenses Growth 2.8%
  Liabilities to Assets 31.8%
All data for Financial Performance Metrics calculations was provided by Lowell Observatory on recent 990s filed with the IRS.
All data for Financial Performance Metrics calculations was provided by Lowell Observatory on recent 990s filed with the IRS.

Highly Rated

Charity Name & State Overall Score Overall Rating
Lowell Observatory (AZ) 88.01 three stars
Long Now Foundation (CA) 87.94 three stars
American Association for the Advancement of Science (DC) 89.07 three stars
The Leakey Foundation (CA) 85.58 three stars
APhA Foundation (DC) 86.20 three stars

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REVENUE  
Contributions  
   Contributions, Gifts & Grants $18,515,431
   Federated Campaigns $0
   Membership Dues $339,265
   Fundraising Events $0
   Related Organizations $1,010,255
   Government Grants $2,567,102
Total Contributions $22,432,053
   Program Service Revenue $4,273,398
Total Primary Revenue $26,705,451
   Other Revenue $2,516,069
TOTAL REVENUE $29,221,520
   
EXPENSES  
   Program Expenses $11,560,170
   Administrative Expenses $1,587,386
   Fundraising Expenses $1,199,361
TOTAL FUNCTIONAL EXPENSES $14,346,917
   
Payments to Affiliates $0
Excess (or Deficit) for the year $14,874,603
   
Net Assets $44,406,194

Program names and associated costs are listed for the top programs as reported on the charity's most recently filed Form 990. The top programs displayed will include the largest three programs, or those programs covering at least 60% of the charity's total expenses, whichever comes first.

Program Name Amount Spent % of Program Expenses
Research $9,193,463 79.5%
Educational Programs $2,366,707 20.5%

Ratings History

Form 990 FYE Date Published Overall Score Overall Rating
CN 2.1
2019-12 05/01/2021 88.01 three stars
2018-12 02/01/2020 88.81 three stars
2017-12 12/21/2018 88.56 three stars
2016-12 02/01/2018 86.75 three stars
2015-12 05/01/2017 85.30 three stars
2014-12 07/01/2016 84.88 three stars
2014-12 06/01/2016 82.78 three stars
 
CN 2.0
2014-12 12/01/2015 83.38 three stars
2013-12 07/01/2015 85.56 three stars
2012-12 05/01/2014 83.80 three stars
2011-12 08/01/2013 87.27 three stars
2011-12 04/01/2013 79.65 two stars
2011-12 03/01/2013 74.95 two stars
2010-12 03/01/2012 71.24 two stars
2009-12 09/20/2011 72.58 two stars
 
CN 1.0
2009-12 02/01/2011 91.18 four stars
2008-12 04/01/2010 88.03 three stars
2007-12 07/01/2009 86.67 three stars
2006-12 06/01/2008 84.54 three stars
2005-12 12/15/2007 79.64 two stars

The data displayed on this tab is provided by the IRS in the form of Publication 78 and the Business Master File (BMF).

EIN 86-0098918
Name in IRS Master File LOWELL OBSERVATORY
NTEE Code U31
NTEE Classification Astronomy
NTEE Type Science and Technology Research Institutes, Services
Classification Scientific Organization
Subsection 501(c)(3)  (View the list of codes)
Activities (161) Scientific research (diseases)
Foundation Status Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public   170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
Deductibility Contributions are deductible
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).
Group Name [Not Applicable]
Ruling Date May, 1947
Filing Requirement 990 (all other) or 990EZ return
Fiscal Year End December
IRS Forms 990
(provided courtesy of Foundation Center)
(Log In or Register Now to View Forms 990!)
  • December, 2018
  • December, 2017
  • December, 2016
  • December, 2015
  • December, 2014
Compensation % of Expenses Paid to Title
$186,611 1.30% Jeffrey C. Hall Chief Executive Officer

Highly Rated

Charity Name & State Overall Score Overall Rating
Lowell Observatory (AZ) 88.01 three stars
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (DC) 93.29 four stars
Botanical Research Institute of Texas (TX) 87.81 three stars
Stroud Water Research Center (PA) 89.52 three stars
The Leakey Foundation (CA) 85.58 three stars

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Charity Contact Info

Lowell Observatory
1400 West Mars Hill Road
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
tel: (928) 774-3358
EIN: 86-0098918

Visit Web Site

Board Leadership

W. Lowell Putnam, IV
President

CEO

Jeffrey Hall
Director

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