Financial Integrity of PEERS
And the "In the Red" Number
Dear friends of PEERS,
We've received several emails over the years questioning the financial integrity of PEERS and WantToKnow.info and/or asking about the "in the red" number you see at the top of our emails and webpages. We know that for every email that comes in, there are many other readers who also question this, but don't contact us.
For this reason, we'd like to provide some financial information and explain what's up with the "in the red" number. PEERS is deeply committed to transparency in all matters, including finances.
PEERS, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under which WantToKnow.info operates, is required by law to make public all of our finances. PEERS has 13 websites, all of which are focused on various aspects of personal and global transformation. WantToKnow.info, our most popular website, is all about exposing major cover-ups and corruption with the purpose of stopping these disempowering practices and building a brighter future for all.
Particularly as transparency is a major focus of our work and as many of you care enough to support PEERS financially, we want to assure you that we do everything we can to be transparent about our finances and everything we do.
The Red Number
We list the amount that we are in the red at the top of most emails that go out and at the top of every webpage on WantToKnow.info. We generally update the number twice a week. The reason the numbers are almost always in the red is that donations almost always lag behind our expenses. At the beginning of each month, the amount that we are in the red jumps by $12,000 or more dollars, as that's when we add our expenses for the month to the amount we are in the red. The red ink number then gradually decreases over the course of the month as caring supporters like you make donations. It then jumps again at the start of the next month.
So far, it is rare during year that we actually go into the black during any month except December. Once every few years we get a donation of several thousand dollars that allows to us go in the black for a couple months. Yet in December, we typically get a lot more donations than any other month, so thankfully in over many years of providing this service, we have have ended up in the black every year except 2009 and 2019 thanks to the end of the year surge in donations.
As we ended in the black most years till 2020, PEERS usually had between $40,000 and $60,000 in reserves in the bank. And then in April of 2021 we received a huge cryptocurrency donation worth about $380,000 from a most generous anonymous donor. So rest assured that we are at no risk of going under.
Yet if we don't get enough donations in the coming years, we risk losing our nonprofit status due to requirements of the IRS to have a broad base of financial support. At least 1/3 of our donations must come from a wide spread of supporters averaged over five years. And the one huge donation in 2021, though most welcome, skews our donation numbers so that we could fall below the 1/3 requirment if we don't get enough donations from our many supporters.
To explore the details of our income and expenses and see our financial reports, see the section titled "PEERS Finances" of our most recent annual report.
How We Got Here - By WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks
I awoke to the major cover-ups happening behind the scenes in our world in mid-2001. Starting in 2003, I volunteered for seven years and donated over $30,000 of my own limited retirement savings to get WantToKnow.info and the other PEERS websites started. I decided this work was far more important than my retirement savings and so became my own benefactor. I quit my nursing job in 2003 and resigned from my work as a State Department language interpreter in 2004. This allowed me to focus full time on developing these websites, which thankfully quickly became popular.
In 2006, I brought together a board of directors and we applied for and were given 501(c)(3) nonprofit status as PEERS. This allowed our donors to get a tax deduction for their donations. Until 2010, only two contractors were paid for their part-time work, as that's all we could afford. One was our invaluable tech guy and the other did our news summaries. In 2010, we finally started receiving enough donations to pay me a small amount for my work. Each year afterward, we gradually increased my pay. Only in 2014 did we finally make enough to pay me a full salary of $48,000/year. In 2022 after our big donation, my salary was raised to $60,000/year. And we for the first time hired another wonderful woman, Amber Yang, also with a salary of $60,000/year.
Back in 2003, I made a commitment to provide all of the information we share free of charge and without any ads, as I wanted to spread this information far and wide to all who are interested as rapidly as possible without any pressure from advertisers. I believed that if we provided high quality information, our readers would eventually support this work with donations. I have held to that commitment, and now thanks to the awesome generosity of our many supporters, I am able to earn a living doing this important work.
I don't like asking for money, nor do I enjoy listing how much we are in the red all the time. Yet I knew that I eventually needed to earn a living to keep this work going. One of our wonderful supporters is a professional fund raiser. In 2012, he convinced me to try using the "in the red" number. He was clearly on to something, as our donations almost instantly increased by about 75%. So though I don't like it, posting the amount in the red does work for bringing in donations and supporting this work.
With our big donation, we now have enough to pay one other person (Amber Yang) to work full time with PEERS. We particularly hope to develop an in-depth section on solutions to all of the challenges we are facing. We will likely go quite a bit into the red as a result of this, but as I mentioned, we have a very good buffer of over $300,000 in the bank to support this. And we still need donations to continue to grow and thrive.
I hope all of this clarifies our financial situation for any who had questions. For those for whom it makes a difference, I'm happy to give more details on our finances and even send detailed reports, so you can see exactly what we're doing. You can contact me here. You can also read our past annual reports at www.peerservice.org by clicking on the links in the left column on the lower half of the page. These reports have further links to online posts of our detailed annual expense reports.
I am extremely thankful to all of our nearly 4,000 supporters who over the years have generously contributed to make possible all that we've accomplished. With over 32 million cumulative visits to the PEERS websites and with many key influential people who have had their eyes opened, I can say without a doubt that we have made a big difference in our world. Thanks so much to all of you for caring and playing your part in building a brighter future for ourselves and for future generations.
Note: If you'd like to donate to support this good work and help bring the "in the red" number down, please click here. To read some of the many beautiful messages we've received describing the impact of our work, click here and here.
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