Avalanche Center Home Budget History and Projection

Related: Contribution History ; Make a Contribution

The graphs below give an overview of the finances of Avalanche-Center.org (the CyberSpace Avalanche Center or CSAC) since we began our second year of operation as a non-profit (and our third year of providing internet resources) in the fall of 1996. Please note that we receive no financial support (and for that matter very limited cooperation) from any government sources. We have no affiliation whatsoever with the US Forest Service, or any other government agency. We are one of the only avalanche related nonprofits in the US which does not raise funds on behalf of the government to assist in paying federal salaries.

We have had four primary sources of revenue over time, shown in the first four graphs. Note that the largest ones have traditionally been individual contributions and the avalanche store. Support from industry has been minimal since our first few years. We still ran an auction for many years but no longer do that, and we gave up on sponsorships from industry a long time ago. We tried Adsense instead for a while with some success, but that had its own set of problems. In 2007 we set up an Adsense-like script to run our own ads, but it has never been promoted very well. In 2008 we had some unsolicited interest in low-budget ads on the home page in the bar on the left side. They withdrew their ads as a result of economic conditions in 2008.

In the fall of 2003 we submitted about 25 proposals for small operating funds grants but did not receive anything from that effort. (See those results.) It's hard for a service inherently used by middle class people with funds to recreate to compete with projects that serve indigent communities, children at risk, etc.

Our ability to operate at all ultimately comes down primarily to the support of users, through direct contributions and store purchases.

The last two graphs show total expenses and the net gain or loss for each season. In the 2002-2003 season we had a net loss for the first time ever. Following 2004 we managed to operate quite a few seasons on a flat budget, although in recent years we have had a net loss.

None of the graphs below are adjusted for factors such as inflation. If it were adjusted for inflation our budget would actually be shrinking even more each season.

The data through 2017-18 which is included on these graphs is now final.

Contribution History

Individual Contributions

This was our largest and most important source of support for much of our history. Lately it has been shrinking while store revenue first grew and then became flat and also shrunk. We have continued to fund the operation, but at first more of our time went into retailing and more recently funds have come from the director personally.

Since 2013-14 most of our contribution revenue has come in the form of a few large donations from individuals or family foundations. On some pages these are separated as Small Grants to distinguish them from small more typical donations.

Store Revenue History

Avalanche Store Net Profits

In our early years we were pioneers in online retailing and nearly a sole source for online purchases of books and safety gear. As a result the store saw good growth in those years. Later we had some ups and downs as big-box retailers came online and Amazon and Ebay grew. We competed by using e-bay but most distributors now do not allow it. For the past few seasons the project has been somewhat neglected and there has not been anyone available in the US to manage store sales. We hope to revive it somewhat but are not sure how competitive we can be against the big-time online outlets now.

Auction Revenue History

Annual Fundraising Auction

As of 2013 the Auction no longer operates.

This was always fun to run, but a lot of work. Industry support was relatively good considering we have no government affiliations. Unfortunately user participation was not so high and it reached a point where it was no longer worthwhile to hold the auction. As of fall 2014 we do not have the physical facilities to manage this anyway, and our director who provides all the effort behind the project is overseas.

Advertising Revenue History

Advertising (Currently None)

Industry interest in supporting avalanche safety has greatly diminished since we began, and was never that great. In the early years a large effort was made to obtain support, but the time and effort expended was very large in comparison to the return shown. Ultimately we gave up on sponsorships. During the 2005-06 season we used Adsense, which worked out ok for one year. Starting in 2008 we had some limited unsolicited interest in home page ads, in the bar along the left. In recent seasons there has not been any advertising revenue.

Total Revenue

Total Annual Revenue

This is the total result of the above revenue streams. Compare this to any other avalanche related non-profit, and consider that some of them cover mostly salaries. We believe we accomplish more per dollar than any other group (or agency) out there. If we could raise more funding we could provide a great deal more.

Total Expenses

Total Annual Operating Expenses

This shows our total operating expenses for each season. While they grew in the first 3 seasons as the project expanded they became steady, then lower. For about seven seasons we had to keep our expenses flat. One disadvantage of having no government affiliation is that we cannot spend money we don't have. Note that nothing here is adjusted for inflation. While some USFS centers have grown their budgets by 10% or so in recent years (exceeding inflation) our non-profit budget has been flat at best, with inflation effectively decreasing our budget further. The most recent four years reflect a dormancy brought on by low funding, a volunteer director who moved to the Caucasus, and a frantic short-notice server move in 2016.

Net Profit and Loss

Net Profit/Loss

Here the last two charts are super-imposed to show our total net gain or loss each season. Until 2002-03 we were able to raise a bit more than we spent. Those funds allowing us to operate at a loss in 2002-03 and a slight loss in 2003-04. Then for five seasons we managed to break even by further reducing, as well as deferring, expenses.The 2007-08 season saw some improvement due to lower expeditures and improved store revenue but the 2008-09 season operated at a slight loss. The 2009-10 season was worse throughout as the world economy tanked. 2010-11 saw a bit of a recovery but we still operated at a loss. Our reserves are depleted at this point, and the director has personally underwritten the losses incurred in keeping this online. It is not clear at this time what the long term future is.

If you would like to compare our budget information here with the general budgets of the avalanche centers run by the federal government you can see an overview of their historical figures. Note that their budgets do not need to cover overhead costs such as office operations, motorpool costs, computer equipment, etc. That is all provided as in-kind support or buried in federal overhead accounts, and the vast majority of their budgets are for payroll. In contrast, our budget needs to cover all basic operating expenses which leaves nothing for salaries. All time and effort is donated here.



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