Sustainability — Natural Science Institutions


--Top Program Service  Earners --

The Top 10 institutions receive an average of 61% of their revenue from Program Services, ranging from $317 thousand to $20 million, averaging $4 million.  The range indicates that both small and large institutions can attract significant audiences. In contrast to Arts institutions, only 3 are on the East coast; 4 are in smaller central states; 2 in the Southwest; and 1 really west in Hawaii

--Bottom Program Service Earners --

The Bottom 10 obtain only 8% of their revenue from Program Services.  the amounts range from $122 thousand to $31 million.  Their average Program Service revenue is the same size as the Top 10, $4 million, reinforcing the observation that size is not a primiary factor.  Interestingly, 3 of the Bottom are in NY, and 3 in California.

Money is the root of all -- institutional survival.  Of course, management, public relations, expertise, facilities, location and collections matter.  But their contribution is necessarily measured by revenue because, to remain open, payments must be made at the end of the month to curators, utilities, creditors, and support services.

To examine how institutions make it, the charts at the right show the highest and lowest earners (as a percent of Total Revenue)  in three categories:  Program Services, Donations, and Business activity.

The rankings use percentages rather than $ amounts to reveal vulnerability to shifts in a single revenue source. 

The three categories are a useful way of thinking about a CAN because each requires different skills, has a different culture, has different interloqutors, and is a somewhat independent activity.

Links to related areas:

Return to the Perspective page, and link to the Performance page containing figures on individual institutions:


Look at the balance of revenue obtained from the three sources:

Return to home page:
Also see the Models page for deeper analyses of financial figures.


Program Services

--Top Donation  Earners --

The Top 10 institutions receive an average of 87% of their revenue from Donations.  The Donation level ranges from $440 thousand to the $124 million reached by the California Academy of Sciences.  4 of the Top 10 Donation recipients are in California, the consequence of a relatively wealthy population.

--Bottom Donation Earners --

The Bottom 10 average 25% but include a wide range of Donation revenue from 32% down to 9%.  Unlike most financial measures and most categories of institutions, the difference between Top and Bottom donations is small.


--Top Donation  Earners --

The revenue from funds, investments, financial ventures, and commerical activities such as stores and royalties constitute a business activity.  The top 10, generally older, reasonably endowed, obtain an average of 59% of their income from Business sources.

--Bottom Donation  Earners --

The bottom 10 only obtain an average of 3% from Business sources.  The narrow percentage range and amounts, ranging from $69 to $669 thousand, suggest that this is largely incidental income.  Their total revenue, averaging $9 million is about the same as for those in the Top 10.


Top 10  in Program Service Revenue

Bottom 10  in Program Service Revenue

Top 10 in Donation Revenue

Bottom 10 in Donation Revenue

Top 10 in Business Revenue

Bottom 10 in Business Revenue

Draft 8 June 09