Morris IV’s pleading for this month comes in the form of the classic “if everyone donates a little… we’ll be rich!” He invokes the poor widow story (Mark 12:41-44) which he quotes as:
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Of course, this story is about the donation from the point of view of its importance to the donor – the ICR just wants your money and Morris is quick to point out that he’ll take donations larger than a farthing too, if you’re offering. He goes on to give some insights about the ICR’s popularity and the state of its finances:
In this age when “bigger seems better,” perhaps some have been reluctant to give “too small” a gift, believing such small amounts cannot do much good for the Lord’s work. Yet, the widow’s example clearly shows that God is not interested in size, but in motive and proportion. As such, consider the following: For those who are currently receiving our material but have not yet partnered with us, please know if only 10 percent gave $10 per month, the Lord would use you to increase ICR’s ministry budget by over one million dollars per year. And if 100 percent were able to give just $5 per month (we understand many cannot), our resources would more than double. Many “mites” add up and can become mighty for our Lord’s work!
First, he claims more than a million people ‘currently receiving our material’ – bear in mind however that this figure includes me, as a month or so ago I signed up for their email alerts to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Knowing that, we can calculate from his second piece of information that the ICR’s ‘resources’ are at least $5 million but probably no more than $10 million. MinistyWatch – along with information eventually extracted from guidestar.org after a long struggle – tells us that for the year ending June 20 2011 they had $12 million in total assets and had earned $8 million and spent $5 million over the year. In context this was above the norm and a significant recovery from the previous year, which had been rather bad. I have no data for the recently-ended financial year, so Morris’ information is the best we can do.
While researching this I stumbled upon some earlier analyses of the ICR’s finances, one by Jim Lippard in 2006 (back in the days of Duane Gish) and one only touching on them by Todd Wood in 2010. Lippard said:
The ICR seems to be doing OK financially, but they clearly need to keep an eye on their salary expenses. John Morris took a small pay cut in 2005, but the other directors and staff with salaries over $50,000 have been getting regular annual pay raises. Despite Gish’s reduced public appearances, his salary has continued to climb, from $78,198 in 2003 to $80,544 in 2004 to $84,969 in 2005.
From my (quite possibly flawed) reading of the information I got from guidestar.org it would seem that salary is nologer such a problem, as there seem to be far fewer “highest compensated employees” on the list these days. However, John Morris now earns significantly more now than then, and his brother Henry Morris III (the CEO) more even than him. Lippard also noted:
Founder Henry Morris turned over the reins to his son John in 1995, and Henry Morris died in February of this year. Duane Gish, the noted creationist debater, has greatly reduced his public appearances in his old age (he’s nearly 86). John Morris has never been the enthusiastic creationist superstar that his father or Gish were.
Larry Vardiman’s ascent to the COO position suggests to me that he’s the likely successor to John Morris to run the show.
We now know that, whatever might be true about John’s preformance, Vardiman is not going to succeed him as the latter has now retired. Lippard concluded:
To sum up the ICR–they’re not particularly hurting for cash, but they aren’t growing, and appear to be stagnating. In real, inflation-adjusted terms, they’re not doing as well as they were a decade ago, and they’re clearly not the force for creation evangelism they used to be. It appears to me that they are in a long-term decline.
Todd Wood, writing some years later, noted an increase in AiG’s “market share” (along with a general increase in the market), at the cost of organisations like the ICR. He also added in analysis of other relevant groups, concluding:
What’s interesting about this is that the NCSE’s income has also doubled over these seven years. Thus, it’s not just the creationist market that’s growing, the entire market for the creation/evolution culture war has grown dramatically. It’s become a self-sustaining industry. This does not bode well for those interested in a resolution of this war.
“Ending the war,” by the way, seems to be Wood’s primary aim. Other findings included that the readership of both Creation magazine and the Journal of Creation had taken a big hit in the US.
So now, some years even after that, the ICR may well be “hurting for cash” – certainly, Henry Morris IV will take anything you’ll thrust at him. Got any monopoly money you don’t need?