BoatUS Foundation


Annual Report


On behalf of all of us at the BoatUS Foundation, I am very pleased to share with you the accomplishments we achieved in 2016. This year saw a great deal of preparation for things to come, including the use of new tools and technology—while continuing to work on the programs that made the Foundation what it is. The Foundation embarked on a course that uses a new system to manage our programs that utilize Customer Relations Management (CRM) software. We also laid the groundwork for starting an on-water education program, which we look to take nationally in the coming years. These are just two of the many things that you’ll read about in the coming pages—I hope you are as excited about them as we are!

The Foundation touches hundreds of thousands of boaters every year with positive ways to keep our waters clean and to enjoy boating safely. Our programs are funded primarily through small donations from boaters like you. I hope that as you read this Annual Report, you can see the value in our programs and make the choice to help support our safe and clean boating mission. As you read about our programs, I think you’ll see that we are careful stewards of our resources, and provide a tremendous value to our donors and the boating public.


Chirs Edmonston operating a boat

Chris Edmonston

BoatUS Foundation President


2016 At a Glance

Life Jacket Loaner Program

  • Accepting applications year round
  • Offering free promotional materials
  • Discounted life jackets

Boating Safety Course Students

  • 2014 - 109,664
  • 2015 - 124,158
  • 2016 - 133,991

Derelict Net Removal

  • 2 Nets removed - over 3000 lbs
  • Working to remove sunken vessel in Great Lakes

Foundation Findings

  • Partnered with local fire department
  • 3 Controlled boat burnings
  • Major lesson - have a plan!


  • 20% Increase in donations
  • New CRM program implemented
  • Amped up boat donation program

On-Water Training

  • Utilized Lean Six Sigma Principles
  • Planned pilot program at Miami Boat Show

EPIRB & PLB Program

  • 180 orders in 2016
  • 71 lives saved since 1995

New Courses Launched

  • Modern Marine Navigation
  • How to Use GPS

Grassroots Grants

  • Grants up to $10,000
  • Easier application process


of the BoatUS Foundation

The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is an innovative leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating. The Foundation provides educational outreach directly to boaters and supports partner organizations nationwide.

With millions of boaters on the water, our aim is to reduce accidents and fatalities, increase stewardship of our waterways and keep boating a safe and enjoyable pastime. The BoatUS Foundation is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our work is primarily funded by grants and individual donations.

  EPIRB and PLB Program


Orders shipped in 2016


Total activations since 1995


Lives saved since 1995

Most Spirited Rental

The all-women’s crew of a 21’ center console was the smallest to compete in a three-day catch and release billfish tournament off Ocean City, MD.

Safest Sailing Crew

A 40’ racing catamaran participating in a long-distance race in the Pacific Northwest rented 1 EPIRB and 7 PLBs, one for each crew member.

Did You Know

Each year we rent a handful of PLBs to people going offshore on chartered fishing trips and on ocean-going cruise ships for their added peace-of-mind.


For the fifth year in a row, the total number of EPIRB rentals have declined slightly. However, the total number of PLB rentals is more than the previous year. Each year we marvel at the trips our renters take as they head offshore, out of cell phone and VHF range and this year was no different. From sailing in British Columbia to kayaking alone in the Florida Keys, our renters let us know how thankful they are for the services we provide.

"We had a smooth trip crossing the Gulf of Mexico and having the EPIRB aboard gave us peace-of-mind. We're glad we didn't need it, but glad we had it!”
- Crew of the motor yacht, “Midas”.

  Life Jacket Loaner Program


New Life Jacket Loaner Sites Nationwide


Total Life Jacket Loaner Sites


Life Jackets Loaned Through The Program


In 2016 we focused on improving our Life Jacket Loaner Program and providing additional resources to the boating community. We are now accepting applications for new sites year-round to better address the growing need for loaner sites across the country. We spent much of 2016 working on our back-end systems to increase our efficiencies in our program’s management so we can continue to grow the program for years to come. We are continuing to offer resources for organizations who wish to set up their own programs, including signage and discounted life jacket through a partnership with Stearns.


  On Water Training

In July of this year, the Foundation embarked on the great challenge of On-Water Education. After initializing the project a team was assembled consisting of members from the Foundation and BoatUS headquarters. By utilizing lean six sigma principles, the team set out to do market research, gather voice-of-customers, and study the current climate of on-water education to determine the prices the market could bare. We utilized existing data from the NMMA abstract, a study by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the Outdoor Recreation Participation topline report, and others to get a better understanding of the current state of boating and how the average American recreated. By surveying students from our online boating safety course and conducting focus groups of different populations, our pilot program began to take shape. By the end of 2016, we had secured a partnership with Discover Boating and began planning our first of six pilots at the Miami International Boat Show in 2017.

At the end of the year, we conducted a one-day brainstorming session with nearly 20 employees involved to help design the additional pilots we would look to produce in 2017. Our team was quickly coming to the realization that the success and potential for a national rollout would require us to leverage partnerships. It was during this time that we began negotiating with Freedom Boat Club, as their position in the market and business model, solved many of our core challenges to delivering a program. We anticipate 2018 to be a busy year for this project and we are confident in the potential and future success of our team to deliver a national program.

  Grassroots Grants

Over $1 Million

Has been awarded over the past 25 years


After more than 25 years of offering grants, we decided to take a step back this year in order to make needed improvements to the program. We feel that this will help us make the biggest impact in the boating community. With updated guidelines and an open application cycle, we are now able to respond more efficiently when new and interesting proposals come our way. We also spent a great deal of time working on our internal systems to make the grant process, for both us and applicants, as easy and effective as possible. We’re looking forward to fully launching the new grant program in 2017.


  Marine Debris


The BoatUS Foundation received two grants in 2016 to work on marine debris:

The first grant looks at the interactions of recreational boats with fixed commercial fishing gear, like crab and lobster pots. Recreational boats are thought to be one of the primary causes of lost pots. To better understand this challenge we conducted focus groups in Portland, ME; Virginia Beach, VA; Miami and the Keys in Florida and Seattle, WA to get a national perspective. The findings will be used to develop messaging to reduce gear entanglement, lost gear and damaged boats.

The second grant, from NOAA, is to remove derelict nets offshore of Ocean City, MD and a vessel in Lake Erie in partnership with TowBoatUS. In 2016, in collaboration with TowBoatUS Ocean City we helped document the removal of 2 abandoned commercial fishing nets that had become caught on an artificial offshore reef.

Additionally, reinforcing our leadership in the area of marine debris, we were contacted by officials from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) for a report they were researching on the topic of abandoned and derelict vessels.


  Invasive Species

Our work on invasive species continued with Susan chairing ABYC’s Product Technical Committee working to develop a Technical Information Report for the boating industry on design considerations to prevent the spread of invasive species by boat. This effort brings state natural resource professionals together with boat, motor and component manufacturers to look at how decontamination practices are impacting boats and how boat design impacts the ease of decontamination. The first meeting of the group was held in the Baltimore area and the second was held in conjunction with IBEX in Tampa in the fall.

  Green Belt Training


BoatUS as a whole has adopted Lean Six Sigma approaches to problem-solving, the Foundation too, has embraced Lean Six Sigma to ensure that our program delivery is as efficient as possible and best meets the needs of those who rely on our programs. In 2016 three Foundation staff members were training to the Green Belt level and are leading process reviews to improve our Boat Donation program, increase engagement and revenue opportunities from the students of our free online boating safety course and optimize the implementation and automation in our use of our CRM Salesforce/Blackbaud.


   Foundation Findings


Major Lesson - Have a plan!


Boats burned with shocking video


Volunteer firefighters and investigators


Each year we field a variety of questions about fire extinguishers, usually about the type that’s recommended and how many the Coast Guard requires. At every opportunity, we remind boaters that the requirements are only minimums and a boater should consider equipping their vessel with more. To prove this point and to learn more about how to improve boat fire safety, the Foundation conducted three staged fires on a center console, a runabout, and a cabin cruiser. To safely conduct these tests, we worked with the local fire department who hosted the event in a gravel parking lot, which greatly reduced the risks. With expert input, the Foundation staff mocked up an electrical, engine room, and a galley fire – all scenarios that can happen aboard. What became abundantly clear is that boat fires burn hot with a lot of smoke – they also spread fast. Really fast. In only seconds, the fire fighters had emptied the portable fire extinguisher and not much longer after that, breathing apparatus was required to be anywhere near the inferno. At the end of the day we proved that things get bad quickly: In each fire, you'd have three or four minutes — to make a VHF radio mayday call, locate and use extinguishers, don life jackets, and prepare to abandon ship — before likely being forced overboard. If you haven’t seen our videos, be sure to check them out at



BoatUS Members are loyal supporters of the BoatUS Foundation and we are fortunate to have a great relationship with them.

In 2016, the requested donation amount at the time of renewal was increased from a standard $5 ask to a requested $6. This small adjustment has resulted in nearly a 20% increase in funds coming from this time-honored and all important revenue source. Our fundraising efforts have further been enhanced when we implemented a brand new, customized Contact Relation Management (CRM) system in October. Simply put, the CRM allows us to track donations, thank donors in a timely manner, and place them on a personalized supporter journey so they know how vital their donations are and how their contributions have helped. Our first big campaign was Giving Tuesday in November followed by our end-of-year campaign in December. This is an important time of year when approximately 60% of our online donations are received. Another program the Foundation stepped up in 2016 was the boat donation program. This income source has much potential and has grown in popularity. It’s particularly gratifying to know that boat owners trust the BoatUS Foundation with their prized asset and allow the Foundation to put it to use where the funds can be used best.

  Online Learning



Brand new specialized courses were developed, partnering with the United States Power Squadron.


Students completed our improved free online boating safety course.


2016 was another NASBLA reapproval year for the Foundation’s Free Online Boating Safety Course. In preparation for the reapproval, Foundation staff spent countless hours revising and improving the content of the course. In addition to improvements in the text, Foundation staff also added new videos, graphics and interactive features resulting in a cleaner look and more engaging experience for students. We also began a focused look at how to improve our student engagement. Many of the students who take our free online boating course have little to no other interaction with us. We are looking to increase donations that come from students, as well as the sale of cards/certificates and specialized courses with this audience.


  Financials *2015 Numbers

Program Expenses
Brochures $27,176
Learn to Sail Course $4,999
Free Online Boating Safety Course $281,943
Conferences & Seminars $107,462
EPIRB Rental $45,554
Sportsman's Forum $60,017
Life Jacket Loaner $126,827
Foundation Findings $21,288
Marine Debris $39,751
Website $164,817
Grassroots Grants $69,022
General Education & Research $169,202
Online Course Development & Support $28,754
U.S. Power Squadron $142,537
Navigation Course $37,258
Other Programs $45,729
Total Program Expenses $1,371,336
Contributions $1,102,809
Grants $15,000
Other Income (Royalties and Program) $216,391
Donations $301,828
Investment Income $47,332
Realized Gain on Investments ($376)
Unrealized Gain on Investments ($74,757)
Total Revenue $1,608,227

Other Expenses
Program Services $1,371,336
Management & General $236,127
Boat Donation* $218,328
Fundraising $139,784
Total Expenses $1,965,575

Change in Net Assets ($357,348)
Net Assets at Beginning of Year $1,650,632
Net Assets at End of Year $1,293,284

*Expenses related to refurbishing donated vessels

income and revenue pie chart
expenses pie chart

  Social Media

  Board of Trustees

Kirk La, Chairman

COO of Boat America Corporation

Janice Hobart, Trustee


Bob Adriance, Trustee

Past Technical Director, BoatUS

Bernadette Bernon, Trustee

Past Editor of Cruising World Magazine

Jim Ellis, Trustee

Past President of BoatUS

Ronald Peterson, Trustee

Retired VP, RIS Paper Co.

Robert Putnam, Trustee

Vice Chair, Audit & Finance Commitee
CEO, Putnam-Ross Consulting

Ruth Wood, Trustee

Past President, BoatUS Foundation

Chris Edmonston, Officer

President, BoatUS Foundation

Susan Shingledecker, Officer

Vice President & Secretary, BoatUS Foundation

Ted Sensenbrenner, Officer

Treasurer, BoatUS Foundation



Our Locations:

880 South Picket Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22304

147 Old Solomons Island Rd, Ste. 513
Annapolis, MD 21401

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