Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

aka Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary   |   Shipman, VA   |

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Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

EIN: 51-0498181


Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary (RWS) is dedicated to improving our environment through wildlife rehabilitation and raising awareness in our community about the importance of our native species. We: 1. Provide rehabilitative care for nearly 900 injured and orphaned wild animals each year with the goal of releasing them back to the wild; 2. Inform our fellow citizens about what to do when they find an injured or orphaned wild animal and who to contact for help via our free wildlife hotline; and, 3. Educate fellow Virginians about the habitats and needs of native wildlife through programs featuring education ambassador animals. This combination of animal care and education constitutes our commitment to a vibrant and compassionate future for wildlife in Virginia and beyond.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Sarah Cooperman

Main address

5450 Wheelers Cove Road

Shipman, VA 22971 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Rockfish Sanctuary



Subject area info

Wildlife biodiversity

Environmental education

Population served info

Children and youth


NTEE code info

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

Wildlife Sanctuary/Refuge (D34)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (D01)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Tax forms


Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

As climate change, urbanization, and other anthropogenic threats impact wildlife worldwide, the need for professional wildlife rehabilitation grows with each passing day. Central Virginia's unique confluence of rural and urban spaces has led to a dramatic increase in the demand for licensed wildlife rehabilitators and for public education about the animals we share these spaces with. Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary exists to help address these problems.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Wildlife Rehabilitation

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates nearly 900 injured and orphaned wild animals each year. RWS can care for virtually all native Virginian species, with the exceptions at this time being bears, deer, and eagles. In fact, RWS is the only wildlife rehabilitation organization in Central Virginia that provides rehabilitative care for a variety of the most commonly-encountered backyard wildlife: raccoons, foxes, skunks, groundhogs, bats, and waterfowl like native ducks and geese.

As a smaller volume wildlife rehabilitation facility, the staff of licensed rehabilitators at RWS provide highly individualized care plans for each and every patient. Whether caring for a white-footed mouse or a Great Horned Owl, the RWS team works diligently to provide each animal with exceptional care that is deeply informed by an individual's natural history. The Sanctuary's release rate is higher than the national average, speaking to the quality of care provided.

Population(s) Served

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary presents educational programming about native wildlife to thousands of Virginians every year, typically offering 40-50 programs annually. As a part of our education program, RWS has ten non-releasable ambassador animals that train with licensed staff members. These ambassadors attend on- and off-site programs to help community members better understand our wild neighbors and forge a closer connection to local wildlife.

RWS offers programs free-of-charge to all public school groups. While a donation is suggested for other interested groups, it is not required. RWS is committed to equitable and accessible wildlife education for all Virginian audiences.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of released animals

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Wildlife Rehabilitation

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Our goal is for this metric to remain above 50%, the approximate national average for release, and we have accomplished this every year.

Number of animals rehabilitated

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Wildlife Rehabilitation

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary (RWS) aims to improve our environment through wildlife rehabilitation and raising awareness in our community about the importance of native species. We envision a vibrant and compassionate future for wildlife in Virginia and beyond. Whether it be an injured Red-tailed Hawk or an orphaned white footed mouse, every wild animal plays a valuable role in wild ecosystems and deserves a second chance at life in the wild. RWS's rehabilitation program provides each patient with that second chance, and our education programs empower future conservationists to respect and protect wildlife.

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary accomplishes these goals through multiple routes.

The Sanctuary's wildlife rehabilitation program admits a record-number of wildlife patients nearly every year, speaking to the growing need for rehabbers in Central Virginia. In 2023, RWS admitted 915+ injured and orphaned wildlife patients - a vast increase from even 5 years ago, where the Sanctuary would care for about 750 patients. RWS has strategically remained a smaller volume rehabilitation facility, ensuring that every single animal entering the Sanctuary's doors receives a highly individualized care plan informed by that unique animal's condition and natural history needs.

Our educational goal strategies include both a free public wildlife crisis hotline and on- and off-site educational programs for groups of all backgrounds. Whether an informal phone consultation about an injured groundhog or a formal lecture about wildlife adaptations at a public high school, our education initiatives are adaptable and empowering.

RWS's capacity for rehabilitation is well-established and continues to grow. The organization's team of staff and volunteer rehabilitators work from 7AM-7PM during the busy "baby season" to provide the highest quality of care possible for each and every patient entering the Sanctuary's doors. With a 3,000 sq. ft indoor facility and 53 outdoor pre-release enclosures, all built from the ground up specifically for wildlife rehabilitation, Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary serves as a vital community resource for most native species in Virginia.

In terms of our capacity for education, RWS also has ten resident education ambassador animals that are non-releasable. These animals work closely with our staff trainers to prepare for public appearances, helping community members understand the importance of native wildlife. The Sanctuary offers on-site tour groups as well. Our wildlife hotline is managed by our paid staff rehabilitators, each of whom is licensed and knowledgeable about natural history and regulations. Thus, we provide free advice and information year-round for a wide variety of wildlife conflict situations.

The Sanctuary's release rate is consistently well-above the national release rate for wildlife rehabilitation, speaking to the top-notch care plans RWS crafts for each patient. With a new vehicle as of 2022, RWS can perform more field rescues and patient releases than ever before. RWS continues to strategically build species-specific outdoor enclosures to expand its capacity to care for a wider range of wildlife, including a bat flight enclosure in 2021 and a Chimney Swift enclosure in 2023.

The Sanctuary's education program has also grown immensely in the past decade, reaching over 3,000 Virginians every year through in-person programming - and hundreds of thousands annually through our educational social media pages where we share information about the species we care for. In the future, RWS hopes to expand our property and establish a new building specifically for education programming in order to increase our capacity for community outreach.


Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary
Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 122.15 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 10.5 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 9% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $60,168 $587 $431 $19,081 $110,631
As % of expenses 34.8% 0.3% 0.2% 9.1% 41.5%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $47,209 -$12,234 -$12,308 $6,342 $98,069
As % of expenses 25.4% -5.1% -5.0% 2.9% 35.2%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $232,957 $228,528 $235,210 $228,730 $376,954
Total revenue, % change over prior year 25.5% -1.9% 2.9% -2.8% 0.0%
Program services revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 99.6% 99.6% 99.3% 99.5% 99.7%
Other revenue 0.4% 0.4% 0.7% 0.5% 0.3%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $172,789 $227,941 $234,779 $209,649 $266,323
Total expenses, % change over prior year 6.6% 31.9% 3.0% -10.7% 0.0%
Personnel 50.9% 49.3% 56.8% 59.6% 67.2%
Professional fees 0.0% 1.5% 1.0% 0.6% 0.1%
Occupancy 10.5% 17.6% 13.6% 11.4% 10.6%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 38.6% 31.6% 28.6% 28.4% 22.2%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $185,748 $240,762 $247,518 $222,388 $278,885
One month of savings $14,399 $18,995 $19,565 $17,471 $22,194
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $200,147 $259,757 $267,083 $239,859 $301,079

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
Months of cash 11.9 8.9 8.9 11.2 14.9
Months of cash and investments 11.9 8.9 8.9 11.2 14.9
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 11.9 9.1 8.8 11.0 15.0
Balance sheet composition info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
Cash $171,467 $169,081 $173,360 $196,023 $329,613
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $606,068 $606,068 $606,068 $606,068 $606,068
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 11.5% 13.7% 15.8% 17.9% 22.1%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 0.0% -0.4% 0.1% 0.6% -0.4%
Unrestricted net assets $707,481 $695,247 $682,939 $689,281 $805,124
Temporarily restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total net assets $707,481 $695,247 $682,939 $689,281 $805,124

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2017 2018 2019 2020 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Letter of Determination is not available for this organization
Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Principal Officer

Sarah Cooperman

Sarah has loved animals her whole life and would try to coax deer into her house when her parents weren't looking. (Don't do that.) After graduating from Williams College, Sarah completed a yearlong independent research fellowship studying perceptions of bats in other countries. She was particularly inspired by the Australian wildlife rehabilitators she met who worked with flying foxes. Sarah then started her own journey as a rehabber at Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary in 2018. She holds a Category IIB wildlife rehabilitation permit and is a Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator through the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. As Executive Director, Sarah manages the Sanctuary's daily operations and staff while supporting development alongside our Board of Directors. Sarah also directs the Sanctuary's communications initiatives and presents educational programs.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

Board of directors
as of 10/17/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Mary Haines-Johnson

Nathou Attinger

Patty Wallens

Mary Haines-Johnson

Anju Grover

Elizabeth Courain

Charlotte Rea

Karen Walker

Dean Lhospital

John O'Connor

Jayme Fraser

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/6/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data