Sunday, January 07, 2007

Creationist finances: the Discovery Institute

This is the ninth 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, Institute for Creation Research, Access Research Network, the Creation Evidence Museum, Creation Illustrated Ministries, Creation Moments, Creation Research Society, and Creation Worldview Ministries. Now, the Discovery Institute.

The Discovery Institute is a Seattle-based think tank founded by Bruce Chapman, former secretary of state for the State of Washington and former deputy assistant to Ronald Reagan. He founded DI in 1990, initially focused on regional issues such as transportation and communication. The DI's transportation arm, called the Cascadia Project, received several million dollars in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 1996, Chapman and political scientist John G. West secured funding from C. Davis Weyerhauser's Stewardship Foundation, Howard Ahmanson, and others to create an organization within DI called the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture "seek[ing] nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its damning cultural legacies" and promoting "intelligent design." The initial DI research fellows were Steven Meyer, William Dembski, Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, and Paul Nelson, with Meyer and West as co-directors of CRSC and Phillip Johnson as an advisor. The name of the center was subsequently shortened to the Center for Science and Culture (CSC).

In 1999 the DI's "Wedge document" was leaked to the public, the circumstances of which became known in a 2006 story in the Seattle Weekly. You can find much more about the Discovery Institute at The Panda's Thumb blog.

The financial figures below are for the Discovery Institute as a whole, not the CSC specifically.

As usual, the baseline financial information (1997) is 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:

1997:
Revenue: $1,832,398
Expenses: $1,323,899

And the last three years available through GuideStar.org:

2002:
Revenue: $2,386,072 ($2,293,047 donations, $13,277 from goods sold)
Expenses: $2,404,242
Net expenses at end of year: $1,819,294
Salaries: $238,035 executives/directors, $756,659 other salaries
Individual salaries not listed, Form 990 states they are "available at office."

2003:
Revenue: $4,233,814 ($4,141,679 donations, $10,466 from goods sold)
Expenses: $2,499,077
Net assets at end of year: $3,554,031
Salaries: $338,977 executives/directors, $627,285 other salaries
Executives/directors:
Douglas Bilderback, treasurer: $23,397
Steven Buri, executive director: $72,621
Bruce Chapman, president: $131,696
Eric Garcia, treasurer: $16,430
Jay Richards, vice president: $56,750
Marshall Sana, secretary: $38,083
Employees:
Bruce Agnew: $92,500
Steven Meyer: $90,000
John Drescher: $75,000
Teresa Gonzales: $55,000

2004:
Revenue: $3,504,062 ($3,260,859 in donations, $18,572 from goods sold)
Expenses: $3,539,228
Net assets at end of year: $3,518,865
Salaries: $354,000 executives/directors, $947,479 other salaries
Steven Buri, executive director: $80,000
Bruce Chapman, president: $132,000
Eric Garcia, treasurer: $39,000
Jay Richards, vice president: $63,000
Marshall Sana, secretary: $40,000
Steven Meyer, vice president: $102,500
Employees:
Bruce Agnew, program policy director: $105,000
Tom Till, program director: $105,000
John Drescher, program director: $85,000
Teresa Gonzales, program manager: $60,000

The Discovery Institute is an organization with considerable revenue, allowing it to pay extremely lucrative salaries to its senior management and employees. It has shown growth over the years, though revenue dipped in 2004. It has been influential in media coverage of intelligent design, though it has yet to fulfill its promises of scientific research supporting intelligent design and has suffered major defeats in the legal arena. Despite its high revenue, it is still smaller than Answers in Genesis or the Institute for Creation Research, which appear to me to continue to have better grassroots support than the Discovery Institute.

You can find DI's 2002 Form 990 here, 2003 Form 990 here, and their 2004 Form 990 here.

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