Zoos and Aquariums Can Pay Their Interns: Analyzing Financial Data from 501(c)(3)s
The objective of this study was to compare the financial data of AZA-accredited 501(c)(3) facilities with paid and unpaid internship programs. Financial data was collected from each facility’s 2018 Form 990 found from the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Tool. The data were analyzed to determine if there was a statistically significant difference in the distribution of each facility’s primary sources of revenue and expenses. Financial data was also collected and compared on total revenue, net income, average employee salary, and highest employee salary. There was no significant difference in the distribution of revenue and expenses found between facilities with compensated intern programs and uncompensated intern programs. There was also no significant difference in the total revenue and net income between facility types. The results indicate that all AZA-accredited 501(c)(3)s, regardless of size and operating budget, have the potential to create a compensated intern program. Facilities with compensated intern programs had a significantly greater average employee salary, suggesting that these facilities focus more on compensating staff overall. Facilities with compensated intern programs were interviewed to collect information on how these programs were created and funded. Most respondents said compensation needs to be prioritized and built directly into the annual budget. More research is recommended to determine why facilities are not compensating interns and if compensating interns will provide accessible pathways to zoo and aquarium careers.
Marino. (2022). Zoos and Aquariums Can Pay Their Interns: Analyzing Financial Data from 501(c)(3)s. Animal Keepers' Forum, 49(10), 280-286.