Better Business Bureau Report for
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Better Business Bureau Report issued June 2013
Better Business Bureau Report expires June 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: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Address: 220 S Michigan Ave.
  Chicago, IL 60604
Phone: 312-294-3333
Web Address:
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Better Business Bureau Comments

Year, State Incorporated: 1890, Illinois
Affiliates: None
Stated Purpose: The central mission of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is to present classical music through the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Chicago, national and international audiences. The mission is supported by four mutually reinforcing elements: Artistic excellence: continued international preeminence in the field of orchestral excellence Audience development: leading audience development initiatives Education: superior education and community programs Financial stability: fiscal responsibility for long-term stability

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Evaluation Conclusions


Chicago Symphony Orchestra does not meet the following 3 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Standard 3: Frequency and Attendance of Board Meetings - An organization shall have a minimum of three evenly spaced meetings per year of the full governing body with a majority in attendance, with face-to-face participation. A conference call of the full board can substitute for one of the three meetings of the governing body. For all meetings, alternative modes of participation are acceptable for those with physical disabilities.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra does not meet this Standard because:

  • Average attendance at its board meetings in the past fiscal year was less than 50%.

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.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra 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 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.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra 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:

  • Total program expenses.
  • Total fund raising expenses.
  • Total administrative expenses.
  • Electronic access to the organization’s most recent IRS Form 990.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra meets the remaining 17 Standards for Charity Accountability.
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The CSO Association is the parent organization of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; the Chicago Symphony Chorus; the Civic Orchestra of Chicago (the CSO’s pre-professional training orchestra); the Institute for Learning, Access and Training; and Symphony Center. In addition to the CSO’s classical subscription series—the most important component in its effort to sustain the CSO’s musical tradition—the CSO presents a world-class jazz series, holiday concerts, chamber music performances, and solo recitals by some of the most respected artists of our time.

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012, Chicago Symphony Orchestra's program expenses were:

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concerts 52,105,000
SCP Concerts 4,802,000
Education Concerts and Activities 2,826,000
Symphony Center Rentals and Comissions 2,147,000
Civic Orchestra 1,776,000
Media and Royalty 1,154,000
Symphony Center Retail Operations 302,000
Other Program Services 104,000
Total Program Expenses: $65,216,000
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Chief Executive : Deborah F. Rutter, President

Chair of the Board: Jay L. Henderson
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Vice Chairmen, Client Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP

Board Size: 66

Paid Staff Size: 277

*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
Fund raising costs were 16% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $36,162,000, 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 Chicago Symphony Orchestra's audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2012.

Source of Funds  
Contributions 34,163,000
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concerts 25,351,000
SCP Concerts 4,004,000
Symphony Center Rentals and Commissions 1,855,000
Revenue from Fundraising Events 1,221,000
In-kind Contributions 778,000
Media and Royalty 632,000
Education Concerts and Activities 439,000
Symphony Center Retail Operations 329,000
Civic Orchestra 88,000
Other Program Services 6,000
Less direct fundraising event expenses -855,000
Investment Return, net of investment management fees -5,937,000
Total Income $62,074,000


Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

Programs: 81%  Fund Raising: 7%  Administrative: 6%  Other Expenses: 6%

Total income $62,074,000
Program expenses $65,216,000
Fund raising expenses 5,850,000
Administrative expenses 5,006,000
Other Expenses 4,734,000
Total expenses $80,806,000
Expenses in Excess of Income (18,732,000)
Beginning net assets 262,194,000
Other Changes in Net Assets (28,188,000)
Ending net assets 215,274,000
Total liabilities 220,778,000
Total assets $436,052,000

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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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