Grand Junction, CO   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 84-0852104


LightHawk brings aviation and conservation together to improve efforts to protect land, water and wildlife. The aerial perspective provides a better understanding of the ways environments are connected and how policies impact life on the ground. Many nonprofit organizations lack the resources to effectively harness the gift of flight. LightHawk staff provide the expertise needed to plan and execute flights in support of important conservation projects. We fly partner scientists, philanthropists, media and other stakeholders in an effort to shine a light on important conservation issues. Our work is focused on protecting land, water, wildlife and building climate resilience. Flights are provided to our partners at no cost thanks. to the generosity of volunteer pilots.

Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer

Jim Becker

Main address

P.O. Box 2751

Grand Junction, CO 81502 USA

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Subject area info


Population served info


Low-income people

NTEE code info

Environmental Quality, Protection, and Beautification N.E.C. (C99)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

LightHawk accelerates conservation success through the powerful perspective of flight.

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?


LightHawk’s program priorities are focused on areas where aviation can make a significant contribution. We plan and conduct flights to collect scientific data, transport endangered species and to educate policymakers and stakeholders. We also conduct flights for reporters, photographers and filmmakers working on environmental stories. LightHawk flights take place throughout North America.

Population(s) Served

Landscapes and wild areas can be difficult to examine from ground level. Aerial observations can allow for more area to be covered by partners. LightHawk flights assist conservation organizations in monitoring conservation easements, document pollution and other threats to the important lands.

Population(s) Served

LightHawk flights address conservation issues around both fresh water as well as oceans and coastlines. Our work helps partners monitor waterways for pollution, overuse and other threats. They also monitor and document and issues in oceans and coastlines including impacts due to climate change.

Population(s) Served

LightHawk flights transport endangered species for the purpose of breeding and/or release into the wild. Our flights are able to move animals more efficiently and in better conditions reducing stress during transport, leading to better outcomes when released into the wild. LightHawk flights have seen higher rates of survival than other methods of transport.

Population(s) Served

Our flights improve the collection of data and documentation of the environmental impacts of climate change. We also fly government officials and stakeholders over climate impacted areas to increase their understanding of the impacts of policies they have enacted or are considering.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


4-star Rating 2021

Charity Navigator

Affiliations & memberships

International Union for Conservation of Nature 2021

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.

We know that aviation can greatly enhance and accelerate conservation work. We also know that aviation resources are often too costly for conservation efforts.

LightHawk conservation staff seek out projects and partners where we know we can make a significant contribution. We then serve as consultants co-designing flight campaigns to achieve relevant and important conservation outcomes, educational objectives and outreach strategies.

Once we have a project planned, we tap into our network of over 300 volunteer pilots who donate expertise, time, aircraft, and fuel to support the project, making flight support free of direct cost to our partners.

- We work with more than 100 of the best and most effective conservation partners
- We have a corps of more than 300 skilled and dedicated volunteer pilots
- We fly internationally acclaimed writers, photographers, videographers who journal our work.
- We fly dozens of decision makers each year whose hearts and minds are changed, and who go on to make changes on the ground to air, land, and water quality.
- We form coalitions to address national, regional and local conservation problems.

LightHawk stopped the construction of a coal-fired power plant on the edge of the Grand Canyon in 1979. One pilot in one plane garnered national media attention and started LightHawk by protecting one of our nation’s greatest treasures.

Since then, we have grown to 300 volunteer pilots, each year flying hundreds of missions and 1,000 passengers across the US.

LightHawk has an amazing team to tackle the continent's most pressing conservation issues:
- A national Board of Directors
- A staff that is distributed throughout the US
- A network of more than 100 of the most effective conservation organizations in the US, Mexico and Canada. Here is a small sampling of conservation partners and journalists:
~ National Geographic
~ Surfrider Foundation
~ The Nature Conservancy
~ National Audubon Society
~ Waterkeeper Alliance
~ Restore America's Estuaries
~ National Park Service
~ US Fish and Wildlife Service
~ Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada
~ The Bay Foundation
~ Sonoran Institute
~ William Penn Foundation
~ The Walton Family Foundation
~ Trout Unlimited
~ Numerous NPR and PBS affiliates



Fiscal year: Apr 01 - Mar 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 17.87 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 7.5 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 23% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Apr 01 - Mar 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Apr 01 - Mar 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


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Apr 01 - Mar 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of LightHawk’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 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation -$164,763 $149,779 -$461,327 $199,940 -$281,250
As % of expenses -10.4% 8.9% -27.6% 12.8% -15.1%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation -$165,993 $148,845 -$461,673 $199,593 -$281,597
As % of expenses -10.4% 8.9% -27.6% 12.8% -15.1%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $1,473,367 $1,822,476 $2,294,373 $1,548,212 $1,656,086
Total revenue, % change over prior year 0.5% 23.7% 25.9% -32.5% 7.0%
Program services revenue 0.6% 0.5% 0.6% 0.0% 0.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 1.7% 1.2% 1.6% 2.7% 0.1%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 11.7% 9.7%
All other grants and contributions 95.5% 98.2% 97.8% 85.6% 90.3%
Other revenue 2.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $1,588,388 $1,678,203 $1,673,681 $1,556,191 $1,863,232
Total expenses, % change over prior year 10.5% 5.7% -0.3% -7.0% 19.7%
Personnel 57.3% 54.8% 53.2% 51.3% 44.6%
Professional fees 4.9% 4.4% 2.9% 3.9% 4.6%
Occupancy 1.2% 1.3% 1.2% 0.5% 0.1%
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 36.6% 39.5% 42.7% 44.4% 50.7%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $1,589,618 $1,679,137 $1,674,027 $1,556,538 $1,863,579
One month of savings $132,366 $139,850 $139,473 $129,683 $155,269
Debt principal payment $10,000 $15,000 $0 $0 $160,115
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $1,731,984 $1,833,987 $1,813,500 $1,686,221 $2,178,963

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 6.1 7.8 5.2 6.9 5.7
Months of cash and investments 13.3 14.5 11.2 15.5 13.3
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 5.5 6.3 3.8 5.7 2.9
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $810,234 $1,089,190 $721,042 $888,525 $888,552
Investments $949,775 $934,058 $839,542 $1,127,487 $1,174,266
Receivables $187,948 $75,116 $1,027,416 $986,000 $641,821
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $6,816 $6,816 $2,902 $2,902 $2,902
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 71.0% 84.7% 76.1% 88.0% 100.0%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 3.9% 3.6% 2.2% 6.6% 8.4%
Unrestricted net assets $733,811 $882,656 $535,983 $735,576 $453,979
Temporarily restricted net assets $641,953 $1,171,932 N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $534,120 $0 N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $1,176,073 $1,171,932 $2,050,762 $2,116,761 $2,053,168
Total net assets $1,909,884 $2,054,588 $2,586,745 $2,852,337 $2,507,147

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


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

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Chief Executive Officer

Jim Becker

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


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.


Board of directors
as of 08/01/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Steve Kent

Textron Aviation

David Kunkel

Josh Marvil

Will Worthington

Steve Kent

Phil Walker

Jim Becker

Erin Manzitto-Tripp

Kimberly Eckert

Erin Cooke

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes
There are no contractors recorded for this organization.

Professional fundraisers

Fiscal year ending

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 Schedule G

Solicitation activities
Gross receipts from fundraising
Retained by organization
Paid to fundraiser