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Top Rated

Ducks Unlimited

CharityWatch report issued
July 2022

Top-Rated Charity
CharityWatch Grade
Our independent grade based
on a number of factors.
Program Percentage
Amount spent on programs
relative to overhead.
Cost to Raise $100
Amount spent to raise
$100 of contributions.

Contact Information

Ducks Unlimited
1 Waterfowl Way
Memphis, TN 38120

Other Names

Wetlands America Trust

Tax Status




Stated Mission

Conserves, restores, and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl.

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Data based on Fiscal Year Ended 06/30/2021

Program Percentage: 85%

The percentage of Ducks Unlimited's cash budget it spends on programs relative to overhead (fundraising, management, and general expenses).


Calculated Total Expenses



Cost to Raise $100: $22

How many dollars Ducks Unlimited spends on fundraising to raise each $100 of contributions.


Calculated Total Contributions


Joint Costs

Ducks Unlimited's rating was adjusted for Joint Costs. If you are a donor who considers direct mail, telemarketing, and other Joint Cost solicitations to be true charitable programs, the below efficiency ratios, which were not adjusted for joint costs, may better reflect your goals.

Program % Cost to Raise $100
88% $17
Accounting rules allow charities to report some telemarketing, direct mail, and other solicitation costs as Program expenses. CharityWatch believes that most donors do not consider a charity's solicitation activities to be the Programs they are intending to support with their donations. We therefore adjust such expenses out of a charity's reported Program expense and add it to Fundraising expense prior to calculating its rating.

Government Funding

25% to 49%

Percentage of cash revenue
coming from government sources


Financial Documents

Entity Document Type Tax ID
Ducks Unlimited & Affiliates Audited Consolidated Financial Statements multiple
Wetlands America Trust IRS Form 990 36-3330394
Ducks Unlimited Group Return IRS Form 990 91-2009004
Ducks Unlimited IRS Form 990 13-5643799
Entity: Ducks Unlimited & Affiliates
Document Type: Audited Consolidated Financial Statements
Tax ID: multiple
Entity: Wetlands America Trust
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 36-3330394
Entity: Ducks Unlimited Group Return
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 91-2009004
Entity: Ducks Unlimited
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 13-5643799

Governance & Transparency

CharityWatch evaluates certain criteria related to a charity's Governance and Transparency. Donors may want to consider a charity's willingness to be open and transparent with CharityWatch to be a good litmus test for determining its commitment to public accountability.
This charity is Top-Rated
What does it mean to be Top-Rated?
Ducks Unlimited
meets governance benchmarks.
Ducks Unlimited
meets transparency benchmarks.
Provides Financial Information
Audit Accessibility
Governance: Policies
Reports regularly & consistently monitoring & enforcing compliance with a written Conflict of Interest Policy
Reports required, annual disclosure by officers, directors, and key staff of interests that could give rise to conflicts
Reports having a written Whistleblower Policy
Reports having a written Document Retention and Destruction Policy
Governance: Financials
Reports providing copy of tax form to all board members prior to filing it with IRS
Reports that financial statements were audited by an independent accountant
Governance: Board of Directors
Reports at least 5 voting board members
51% or more of voting board members reported as independent
Reports documenting minutes of board and board committee meetings
Privacy Policy
Privacy Policy Opt-Out Policy  

  Name Title Compensation
1 Adam Putnam CEO $392,945
2 Earl Grochau CAO/CFO $305,535
3 E. Nichols Wiley COO $298,876
Name: Adam Putnam
Title: CEO
Compensation: $392,945
Name: Earl Grochau
Title: CAO/CFO
Compensation: $305,535
Name: E. Nichols Wiley
Title: COO
Compensation: $298,876

CharityWatch Analysts perform an in-depth analysis of charities' audited financial statements and IRS tax filings, and often review other documents such as state filings, annual reports, and fundraising contracts during their evaluations. Below are select notes that CharityWatch believes may be of interest to donors.

CharityWatch's rating of Ducks Unlimited also includes the financial activities of Wetlands America Trust (tax ID #36-3330394), the accounts of which are included in the Ducks Unlimited audited consolidated financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021.

According to the Ducks Unlimited consolidated audit of June 30, 2021 (Note 1, Nature of Activities):

"Wetlands America Trust, Inc. (WAT) is a nonprofit organization formed in 1985 to support the mission of DUI [Ducks Unlimited, Inc.]... WAT operates exclusively for the benefit of DUI and complements DUI's domestic habitat programs in harmony with DUI's conservation priorities. WAT is also a fiduciary for DUI and manages endowments and revolving funds. DUI is the sole member of WAT."

According to the Ducks Unlimited (DU) audited Consolidated Statement of Support and Revenues Without Donor Restrictions and Expenses for the year ended June 30, 2021, DU reports receiving in-kind "Donated educational programming" on which it placed a total value of $8,917,227.

[Note: CharityWatch generally excludes the value of in-kind (non-cash) donations of goods and services from its calculations of Program % and Cost to Raise $100. More information on how grades are calculated and the treatment of in-kind donations can be found on the Our Process page.]

According to the Ducks Unlimited (DU) tax filing for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021, DU reports for Business Transactions Involving Interested Persons (IRS Form 990, Schedule L, Parts IV & V):

(1) A transaction in the amount of $796,800 involving Bruce Lauritzen. The reported description of the transaction is: "Wetlands America Trust [a related organization] Board Trustee Bruce Lauritzen is Chairman of the Board of First National Bank of Omaha to which Ducks Unlimited has a licensing agreement related to affinity cards. Ducks Unlimited also has an agreement for employee purchasing cards with First National Bank of Omaha."

(2) A transaction in the amount of $72,188 involving Ashley Sutherland. The reported description of the transaction is: "Ashley Sutherland was a DU employee who received more than $10,000 in compensation. His comp was $72,188 in FY21. He is the son-in-law of Wendell Weakley, a board member. He was Director of Development."

(3) A transaction in the amount of $51,987 involving Katherine Roberts. The reported description of the transaction is: "Katherine Roberts is a DU employee who received more than $10,000 in compensation. Her comp was $51,987 in FY21. She is the daughter of Ronal Roberson, a board member. She is the manager of the Waterfowling Heritage Center."

(4) A transaction in the amount of $50,060 involving Katharine Smith. The reported description of the transaction is: "Katharine Smith was a DU employee who received more than $10,000 in compensation. Her comp. was $50,060 in FY21. She is the daughter of Chuck Smith, a board member. She was a government affairs coordinator."

In addition, DU reports for Grants or Assistance Benefiting Interested Persons "Land Enhancem[ent]" assistance for the purpose of "Restoration" in the amounts of: (1) $156,967 involving Mike Benge, Member - Emeritus, and (2) $23,040 involving Jared Brown, Board of Directors (IRS Form 990, Schedule L, Part III).

According to the Ducks Unlimited (DU) consolidated audit of June 30, 2021 (Note 2(s) re: Significant Matter):

"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, the vast majority of DU's 2020 spring in-person events were cancelled or moved online. The full impact of the COVID-19 outbreak continues, and it is unknown what the complete financial effect will be on DU. In person and virtual events continue to raise funds for the organization, though not at the same rate as before the pandemic began.

"The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress in March 2020. As part of the CARES Act, DU has received relief through the payroll tax deferral and the employee retention credit provisions. Additionally, DU was eligible and received a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

"Management continually monitors the impact of COVID-19 on DU."

According to the Ducks Unlimited (DU) consolidated audit of June 30, 2021 (Note 2(t) re: Subsequent Events):

"DU has evaluated events and transactions for potential recognition or disclosure through October 1, 2021, which is the date these [audited] consolidated financial statements were available to be issued...

"On September 24, 2021 the Small Business Administration [SBA] sent notice of PPP loan forgiveness for the entire amount of the loan."

According to the Ducks Unlimited (DU) audited Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows for the year ended June 30, 2021, DU reports $1,987,202 in "Proceeds from SBA loan."

According to the Ducks Unlimited (DU) tax filing for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021, DU reports re: Compensation, Supplemental Information (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part III):

Regarding severance payments to officers, directors, trustees, key employees and highest compensated employees (Schedule J, Part I, Line 4a):

"Earl Grochau, CAO/CFO/Assistant Treasurer, received a severance payment of $131,254."

[The reported total compensation in calendar year 2020 for Earl Grochau is $305,535 (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part II).]

Regarding the payment or accrual of any compensation to officers, directors, trustees, key employees and highest compensated employees contingent on the revenues and net earnings of the organization (Schedule J, Part I, Lines 5a & 6a):

"All employees participate in a variable compensation plan that is based on meeting budgeted goals for revenue, income, expense efficiency, membership and acres protected."

Ducks Unlimited reports "Bonus & incentive compensation" payments to four individuals in calendar year 2020, including $25,000 paid to Adam Putnam, Chief Executive Officer, whose reported total compensation is $392,945. The remaining three individuals each received "Bonus & incentive compensation" in the amount of $10,000; their reported total compensation in calendar year 2020 ranges from $249,685 to $246,504 (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part II).