Better Business Bureau Report for
The Field Museum

Better Business Bureau Report issued November 2013
Better Business Bureau Report expires November 2015

Does not meet one or more standards
This charity does not meet one or more of the 20 standards for Charity Accountability. Find out more...

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Charity Contact Information

Name: The Field Museum
Address: 1400 S. Lakeshore Drive
  Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: 312-922-9410
Web Address:
Also known as:The Field Museum of Natural History
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Better Business Bureau Comments

Formerly known as:Columbian Museum of Chicago
Field Columbian Museum
Chicago Natural History Museum

Year, State Incorporated: 1893, Illinois
Affiliates: None
Stated Purpose: The Field Museum is an educational institution concerned with the diversity and relationships in nature and among cultures. It provides collection-based research and learning for greater public understanding and appreciation of the world in which we live. Its collections, public learning programs, and research are inseparably linked to serve a diverse public of varied ages, backgrounds and knowledge.

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Evaluation Conclusions


The Field Museum does not meet the following 3 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Standard 6: Board Policy on Effectiveness - Have a board policy of assessing, no less than every two years, the organization's performance and effectiveness and of determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

The Field Museum does not meet this Standard because:

  • The board of directors does not have a written policy stating that, at least every two years, an appraisal be done assessing the organization’s performance and effectiveness and determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

Standard 16: Annual Report - Have an annual report available to all, on request, that includes: (a) the organization's mission statement, (b) a summary of the past year's program service accomplishments, (c) a roster of the officers and members of the board of directors, (d) financial information that includes (i) total income in the past fiscal year, (ii) expenses in the same program, fund raising and administrative categories as in the financial statements, and (iii) ending net assets.

The Field Museum does not meet this standard because the most recent annual report did not include:

  • The organization’s mission statement
  • Total income.
  • Total program expenses.
  • Total expenses for each program in the same categories that appear in the organization’s financial statements.
  • Total fund raising expenses.
  • Total administrative expenses.
  • Total end of year net assets.

Standard 17: Web Site Disclosures - Include on any charity websites that solicit contributions, the same information that is recommended for annual reports, as well as the mailing address of the charity and electronic access to its most recent IRS Form 990.

The Field Museum does not meet this Standard because the organization's website,, does not include all of the recommended information for those charity websites that solicit for donations. Specifically, it does not include:

  • Electronic access to the organization’s most recent IRS Form 990.
In addition, the BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois requested but did not receive complete information on the organization’s governance and oversight and donor privacy and is unable to verify the organization's compliance with the following 2Standards for Charity Accountability: 5 and 18.
The Field Museum meets the remaining 15 Standards for Charity Accountability.
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People have long asked: what are we and where did we come from? The Field Museum addresses these questions through three main programs: 1) original natural history research; 2) public exhibitions on nature and culture; and 3) engaging children in science. Their research focuses on plants and animals to help us understand how life came to be on our planet. They also study ancient cultures to decipher how our ancestors addressed some of the same problems we face today. In 2012, their explorations took them to more than 40 countries and all seven continents. They uncovered ancient tombs in Peru, found more than 30 new species, and learned that diamonds in meteors may have played a key role in sparking life billions of years ago. They also applied their unique knowledge about nature to issues such as conservation, climate change adaptation,and disease prevention. They build on their research to create public outreach programs which help their visitors understand how nature and science are relevant to their daily lives. They currently present 39 permanent exhibitions covering 350,000 square feet. They provide over 1.4 million people each year the chance to learn at their own pace through encounters with real pieces of the Earth’s history. Their formal education programs focus on childhood science skills and K-12 classroom enhancements. Last year, they conducted science education programs for 30,000 teachers and students, and hosted an additional 150,000 children on science-focused field trips.

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012, The Field Museum's program expenses were:

Total Program Expenses: $
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Chief Executive : John McCarter , President & CEO

Chair of the Board: John Rowe
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Former Chairman, Exelon Corporation

Board Size: 84

Paid Staff Size: 508

*Compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.
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Fund Raising


Method(s) Used:

direct mail, telephone, invitations to fund raising events, grant proposals, internet, planned giving arrangements, membership
Fund raising costs were 18% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $17,481,367, are donations received as a result of fund raising activities.)
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Tax Status


This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.
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The following information is based on The Field Museum's audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012.

Source of Funds  
Investment Return 14,300,000
Contributions 11,274,322
Admissions 11,103,453
Business enterprises 10,556,082
Chicago Park District property tax remittances 5,592,178
Program service fees 3,586,776
Governement grants 3,347,670
Memberships 3,112,043
Private grants and contracrs 1,633,082
Sponsorship 1,226,293
Other 536,061
Total Income $66,267,960


Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

Programs: 90%  Fund Raising: 5%  Administrative: 5% 

Total income $66,267,960
Program expenses $56,543,456
Fund raising expenses 3,146,644
Administrative expenses 3,340,872
Total expenses $63,030,972
Income in Excess of Expenses 3,236,988
Beginning net assets 195,563,056
Ending net assets 363,880,018
Total liabilities 230,547,218
Total assets $594,427,236

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An organization may change its practices at any time without notice. A copy of this report has been shared with the organization prior to publication. It is not intended to recommend or deprecate, and is furnished solely to assist you in exercising your own judgment. If the report is about a charity and states the charity meets or does not meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, it reflects the results of an evaluation of information and materials provided voluntarily by the charity. The name Better Business Bureau is a registered service mark of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

This report is not to be used for fund raising or promotional purposes.

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