Saturday, December 30, 2006

Creationist finances: Access Research Network

This is the third in a series of posts about the finances of the creationist ministries which were previously reported in Reports of the National Center for Science Education in 2000 in an article by John Cole: the Access Research Network, Answers in Genesis, the Creation Evidences Museum, Creation Illustrated Ministries, Creation Moments, the Creation Research Society, Creation Worldview Ministries, the Institute for Creation Research, the Discovery Institute, and I'll add Walter Brown's Center for Scientific Creation to the list.

I've already commented on Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research.

Access Research Network was originally known as Students for Origins Research, which published a periodical on newsprint called Origins Research, a publication I subscribed to for a number of years and enjoyed reading. The periodical promoted an open-minded approach, avoided ad hominem, and was a cut above most other creationist publications. They printed two letters from me, one about Donald Johansen and Lucy's knee joint in 1989 (vol. 12, no. 2, p. 12) and one titled "Science Education" (I forget the specific subject matter) in 1992 (vol. 14, no. 2, p. 9). Origins Research began publication in 1978 and ceased publication in 1996, replaced by a quarterly journal called Origins & Design. Origins & Design suspended publication in 2001 and was supposed to resume publication online, but has not rematerialized. According to the expanded 2006 edition of Ronald Numbers' The Creationists (p. 550, note 21), C. Davis Weyerhauser of the Weyerhauser paper fortune was the primary benefactor who made Origins & Design possible; after he died in April 1999 the funds dried up. I don't see that reflected in a difference between the 1998 financial data (though I do not have a copy of the Form 990, only the revenue and expense numbers) and the last three years of data.

Access Research Network has covered other areas besides the creation/evolution debate, involving science, technology, and society. Their website lists "genetic engineering, euthanasia, computer technology, environmental issues, creation/evolution, fetal tissue research, AIDS, and so on" as "controversial topics" of interest. They've been heavily involved in promoting "intelligent design" and have published and promoted the work of ID advocates such as Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, and William Dembski. The ARN board of directors is Dennis Wagner, Mark Hartwig, Steve Meyer, and Paul Nelson.

ARN is a small nonprofit organization headquartered in Colorado Springs with no paid staff.

On to the financial data--first, the 1998 information from John R. Cole's "Money Floods Anti-Evolutionists' Coffers" in Reports of the National Center for Science Education 20(1-2, 2000):64-65:

1998:
Revenue: $59,311
Expenses: $82,548

And the last three years:

2003:
Revenue: $46,674
Expenses: $56,874
Net assets at end of year: $14,624

2004:
Revenue: $136,238
Expenses: $121,828
Net assets at end of year: $29,034

2005:
Revenue: $78,855
Expenses: $82,306
Net assets at end of year: $25,583

ARN is a small organization, so it doesn't take much to result in large fluctuations (on a percentage basis) in revenue and expenses. Their expenses don't include any salaries, and are thus fairly easy to keep low. A few large donations or a popular book or DVD to sell can make a huge difference in annual revenue. In 2005, they made $28,397 of their revenue by selling items such as books and DVDs, $49,211 in donations, and the remainder from interest and book royalties. The largest categories of expense were $36,315 for Internet services (e.g., webhosting), $14,397 for postage and shipping, $12,155 for accounting fees, and $7,300 for office expenses.

You can find ARN's 2003 Form 990 here, their 2004 Form 990 here, and their 2005 Form 990 here.

Their website, www.arn.org, is currently ranked 375,303 on alexa.com. By contrast, the Internet Infidels website is ranked 68,915, despite having comparable revenue. (Consider an end-of-year donation at the Internet Infidels website.)

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