Better Business Bureau Report for
Adler Planetarium

Better Business Bureau Report issued January 2015
Better Business Bureau Report expires January 2017

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...

Find out more about this charity:

Back To Top

Charity Contact Information

Name: Adler Planetarium
Address: 1300 South Lake Shore Drive
  Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: 312-922-7827
Web Address:
Back To Top

Better Business Bureau Comments

Year, State Incorporated: 1968, Illinois
Affiliates: None
Stated Purpose: The mission of the Adler Planetarium is to inspire exploration and understanding of our Universe.

Back To Top

Evaluation Conclusions


Adler Planetarium does not meet the following 4 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.

Adler Planetarium 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 7: Board Approval of Written Report on Effectiveness - Submit to the organization's governing body, for its approval, a written report that outlines the results of the aforementioned performance and effectiveness assessment and recommendations for future actions.

Adler Planetarium does not meet this Standard because:

  • It has never completed an effectiveness assessment.

Standard 15: Misleading Appeals - Have solicitations and informational materials, distributed by any means, that are accurate, truthful and not misleading, both in whole and in part. Appeals that omit a clear description of program(s) for which contributions are sought will not meet this standard. A charity should also be able to substantiate that the timing and nature of its expenditures are in accordance with what is stated, expressed, or implied in the charity's solicitations.

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.

Adler Planetarium 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.
Adler Planetarium meets the remaining 16 Standards for Charity Accountability.
Back To Top



In 1930, Chicago business leader Max Adler founded the Adler Planetarium--America's First Planetarium--with the mission of inspiring exploration and understanding of our Universe. A recognized leader in science education, the museum's scientists, curators and educators are committed to sharing their passion for science with the public, especially young people. Located on Chicago's Museum Campus, the Adler currently serves local, regional, national, and international audiences. Nearly 500,000 people visit the museum annually, including more than 70,000 students and teachers on school field trips. The Adler's outreach efforts focus on engaging at-risk youth, especially those at Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, Adler Planetarium's program expenses were:

Professional and educational 16,433,385
History of astonomy 1,307,592
Total Program Expenses: $17,740,977
Back To Top



Chief Executive : Michelle Larson, President

Chair of the Board: Joseph T. Lower
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Vice President, Business Development & Strategy, The Boeing Company

Co-Chair of the Board : Jeffrey T. Foland

Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: United Airlines

Co-Chair of the Board : Lamar A. Johnson

Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Gensler Chicago

Board Size: 68

Paid Staff Size: 207

*Compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.
Back To Top

Fund Raising


Method(s) Used:

direct mail, invitations to fund raising events, grant proposals, planned giving arrangements, membership
Fund raising costs were 32% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $8,924,313, are donations received as a result of fund raising activities.)
Back To Top

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.
Back To Top



The following information is based on Adler Planetarium's audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013.

Source of Funds  
Admission Charges 5,053,133
Contributions, bequests and foundation grants 2,255,292
Other goverment grants 2,153,444
Distributions from the Aquarium and Museum Purposes Fund of Chicago Park District 1,734,795
Net gains on investments 1,662,855
Special event revenue 1,422,356
Donated services, expenses and equipment 1,358,426
Other 1,221,596
Auxiliary activities 718,433
Membership dues 585,083
Investment income, net 490,074
Total Income $18,655,487


Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

Programs: 80%  Fund Raising: 13%  Administrative: 6%  Other Expenses: 1%

Total income $18,655,487
Program expenses $17,740,977
Fund raising expenses 2,824,519
Administrative expenses 1,408,752
Other Expenses 207,047
Total expenses $22,181,295
Expenses in Excess of Income (3,525,808)
Beginning net assets 31,673,628
Other Changes in Net Assets 1,388,908
Ending net assets 29,536,728
Total liabilities 34,046,755
Total assets $63,583,483

Back To Top

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.

Send to:

What is an Accredited Charity