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Top Rated


CharityWatch report issued
September 2019

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

1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036

Other Names


Tax Status



Stated Mission

To advocate for policy changes by governments and corporations in order to preserve ocean life and return the oceans to their former abundance.

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Data based on Fiscal Year Ended 12/31/2018

Program Percentage: 73%

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


Calculated Total Expenses



Cost to Raise $100: $7

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


Calculated Total Contributions


Government Funding

0% to 24%

Percentage of cash revenue
coming from government sources


Financial Documents

Entity Document Type Tax ID
Oceana IRS Form 990 51-0401308
Oceana & Affiliate Consolidated Audited Financial Statements Multiple
Entity: Oceana
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 51-0401308
Entity: Oceana & Affiliate
Document Type: Consolidated Audited Financial Statements
Tax ID: Multiple

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?
meets governance benchmarks.
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-In Policy  

  Name Title Compensation
1 Andrew F. Sharpless CEO $447,454
2 James F. Simon President/General Counsel $360,000
3 Michael F. Hirshfield Chief Scientist/Strategy Officer $301,797
Name: Andrew F. Sharpless
Title: CEO
Compensation: $447,454
Name: James F. Simon
Title: President/General Counsel
Compensation: $360,000
Name: Michael F. Hirshfield
Title: Chief Scientist/Strategy Officer
Compensation: $301,797

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 Oceana is for the 501(c)(3) public charity entity (tax ID #51-0401308).

According to the Oceana consolidated audit of December 31, 2018 (Note 1, Principles of Consolidation):

"Oceana operates through branch offices that are formally part of the U.S. corporation in Chile, the Philippines, and Peru. In the European Union, Oceana operates through a locally incorporated independent entity established in Spain, which has branch offices in Belgium and Denmark, as well as through a separate, locally incorporated independent entity established in the United Kingdom. Oceana also operates through locally incorporated independent entities in Belize, Brazil, Mexico, and Switzerland. These entities are dependent on Oceana for funding; participate in Oceana's activities and decision-making; and carry out the general mission and international activities of Oceana. Accordingly, the activities of the branch entities and the independent entities are combined with Oceana's activities in the accompanying [audited] consolidated financial statements."

CharityWatch's rating of Oceana does not include the financial activities of Oceana's related 501(c)(4) tax-exempt, social welfare organization, Oceana Advocacy Resources, Inc. (OAR) (tax ID #31-1814181). CharityWatch does not provide a separate rating of OAR at this time due to its small size. (OAR reported $250,00 in total revenue and $13,026 in total expenses, according to the Oceana audited Consolidating Schedule of Activities for the year ended December 31, 2018.)

CharityWatch separates the ratings for 501(c)(3) & 501(c)(4) organizations, even if their financial activities are included together in a consolidated audit, due to their differing treatments under the IRS tax code. For more information on this topic, please see our sections on Types of Non-Profits, Tax Status, and Treatment of Related Organizations, which can be found on the Our Process page.

For more information about things to consider when donating to organizations that have related public charity and social welfare entities, read "Sorting Out Non-Profit Pairs" in the "Articles & Alerts" section, below.

According to the Oceana consolidated audit of December 31, 2018 (Note 10, Related Party):

"The Organization supports Oceana Canada, in furtherance of a shared purpose... Oceana Canada is an independent nonprofit organization incorporated under Canadian law. The Organization has a service agreement with Oceana Canada to provide administrative and other services. The Organization's Board Chair also sits on Oceana Canada's all-volunteer Board. During the year ended December 31, 2018, the Organization donated $536,234 in total cash contributions and performed services valued at $167,661 in support of Oceana Canada's mission to preserve and protect Canada's oceans."

According to the Oceana consolidated audit of December 31, 2018 (Note 11, Sailors for the Sea):

"In December 2017, the Oceana Board voted to collaborate with Sailors for the Sea (SfS), a 501(c)(3) organization, with the intention of merging programmatic activities. SfS intends to cease operations during the summer of 2019. During the year ended December 31, 2018, Oceana fully assumed the programmatic activities of SfS. Oceana will support the operations, as necessary, while SfS operations cease. At the time of dissolution, any remaining equity of SfS will transfer to Oceana."

According to the Oceana consolidated audit of December 31, 2018 (Note 6, Commitments and Risks, Concentration of Risk):

"For the year ended December 31, 2018, the Organization received contributions of $32,486,602 from three donors, which represents 59% of the total revenue and support recognized..."

According to the Oceana audited Consolidating Schedule of Activities for the year ended December 31, 2018, Oceana reports in-kind revenue valued at $2,753,098. According to audit Note 1, Donated Services: "For the year ended December 31, 2018, donated services consisted of pro-bono legal services relating to the law program."  

[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 Oceana 2018 tax filing, Oceana reports for Business Transactions Involving Interested Persons, a transaction in the amount of $51,606 involving Sarah Bedolfe, daughter of an Oceana board director. The transaction is described as: "Sarah Bedolfe is an employee of Oceana and her total compensation paid for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $51,606" (IRS Form 990, Schedule L, Parts IV & V).

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