The Discovery Institute – Are They Telling the IRS the Truth?

Discovery Institute Funny Math

In order to portray themselves as the little guy or underdog, the DI is taking Flock of Dodos filmmaker to task for his statement in the film that the DI has an annual budget of about $5 million. Not so, says the DI; we only spent a little over $1 million on “intelligent design” in 2003, and have never had as much as $5 million in the annual budget.

The DI has a history of ambivalence concerning finances. In order to cast their bloated reflections in the mirror as “David” to “Goliaths” in opposition, they say they are poor. When it is convenient, they brag about how much money (“over $4 million”) they’ve spent in promoting “intelligent design”.

As I noted in an an article on Panda’s Thumb, finance is not just a he said, she said thing. Non-profit organizations like the DI file reports on finances with the IRS. So, while the DI is playing poor, poor pitiful me (only a little over $1 million to ID in 2003), what was it that they told the IRS for that year?

In 2003, the Discovery Institute reported $4,233,814.00 total revenue, $3,544,031.00 in end-of-year assets, and $2,499,077.00 total expenses. Of those expenses, $338,977.00 went to officers and directors, $627,285.00 went to other salaries and wages, and $122,809.00 went to travel. (In 2002, I noted that the DI could cut its travel budget in half and fund a research study. I’ll note that $60K is the level of funding for some NSF postdoctoral research fellowships.)

I’m not sure just how to juggle and cook those numbers, but the DI as an organization sure looks more like the $5 million institution Randy Olson talked about than the just over $1 million poor relation the DI would like to feign itself to be — at this particular moment in time. If they decided to overstate their financial resources to the IRS, that at least would be a refreshing change from the tax-evading branch of antievolution recently in the news.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.