Better Business Bureau Report for
The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Better Business Bureau Report issued October 2016
Better Business Bureau Report expires October 2018

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 Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Address: 2430 North Cannon Drive
  Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: 773-755-5124
Web Address:
Also known as:Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
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Better Business Bureau Comments

Year, State Incorporated: 1865, Illinois
Affiliates: None

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Evaluation Conclusions


The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum does not meet the following Standard for Charity Accountability.

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 Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum does not meet this standard because the most recent annual report did not include:

  • Total expenses for each program in the same categories that appear in the organization’s financial statements.
The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum meets the remaining 19 Standards for Charity Accountability.
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The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum's biology department continues the 160 year legacy of the Chicago Academy of Sciences by providing research and conservation initiatives with both local and national impact. CAS/PNNM works to protect and restore native habitats and imperiled and endangered species throughout Illinois. Through citizen science programs such as the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network, Academy biologists inspire people to connect with nature. The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is the city's foremost museum dedicated to educating Chicago area teachers and students about nature and science. Museum education programs annually provide nearly 70,000 hours of science education. The Nature Museum's exhibits and public programs engage audiences with topics such as climate change, green living, and survival and extinction. The Museum annually welcomes more than 287,000 visitors through its doors.

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015, The Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum's program expenses were:

Education, exhibits and biology 2,581,644
Museum operations 903,605
Depreciation 672,783
Marketing 327,182
Private events and other 133,307
Total Program Expenses: $4,618,521
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Chief Executive : Deborah Lahey, President and Chief Executive Officer

Chair of the Board: James C. Murray
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Investment Banking

Board Size: 45

Paid Staff Size: 73

*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, invitations to fund raising events, print advertisements, grant proposals, membership
Fund raising costs were 12% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $4,068,258, 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 Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum's audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015.

Source of Funds  
Contributions and special events 2,981,158
Grants, contracts and program fees 1,089,175
Distributions from the Chicago Park District 1,087,100
Private events and other income 426,710
Admissions 321,516
Gift Shop 198,149
Memberships 183,663
Capital projects grant 11,311
Interest Income 4,944
Change in value of beneficial interest in perpetual trust 2,434
Change in value of charitable remainder trust -4,123
Total Income $6,302,037


Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

Programs: 72%  Fund Raising: 8%  Administrative: 20%  Other Expenses: Less than 1%

Total income $6,302,037
Program expenses $4,618,521
Fund raising expenses 497,765
Administrative expenses 1,302,025
Other Expenses 29,750
Total expenses $6,448,061
Expenses in Excess of Income (146,024)
Beginning net assets 13,079,349
Ending net assets 12,933,325
Total liabilities 6,595,329
Total assets $19,528,654

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