An Update from the Avalanche Center
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This has been a tough winter for the avalanche center, which is why there have been few updates. The store has been operating and has been more successful than expected. This is a good thing since contributions are way down, probably a result of not having updates to encourage support. The down side of the store being successful is that it has taken almost all of the time I have available for the project. However, I have been keeping things up to date even if they are often behind for a few weeks.
Store Clearance Sale - http://www.avalanche-center.org/store/sale.php
At the end of March I will be going away for a month or so. The website will be kept up - there is no such thing as a 100% vacation from the web work. But there will not be anyone available to ship orders from the office since I've been doing that without help last season and this season.
So I'd like to get rid of what is left on the shelf in the next week or so. All items were posted on the members sale page a couple days ago and announced on the store notices list available to members. The beginning discount is 15%. Today the list was posted on the public sale page with the same discount. Each day the discount will be increased, first for members and then for the public. Usually the selection gets smaller as the discount gets larger, with beacons going quickly. Members on the store-notices list will receive an email every time the discount is increased, but no further notices will be sent to either this or the members list.
The sale page is:
There are also text ads on the left side of the home page, one for the clearance sale and one for the store main page.
Your purchase of equipment will help the CSAC as well as save you money. We always need to convert the remaining inventory to cash to survive the summer and fall, and that is especially true this year. Next seasons prices are coming out and some are going up dramatically (in dollars), probably because of the declining dollar. Some beacons will be going up in suggested retail price as much as $100. So buy now.
If you make a purchase from us which totals $100 or more a years membership is included free. If you are already a member then log in and check the sale page for members since the prices are lower and there is free shipping.
Budget and Fundraising - http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/finance/
Early this month all budget and financial information was updated on the web. This years data is inclusive through February and shows our revenues as well as where the money goes. You can find all this information here:
You will notice a few things. One is that the store now generates more of our operating budget than contributions. Another is that the number of contributors is much lower. The average donated amount is typical of past seasons, but the number of contributors is way down. (This average has a large deviation associated with it since many store orders include a $3 donation and some generous supporters give more than the $35 required for a membership.)
We've taken a lot of abuse from some people at times over the fact that we can't provide everything to everyone for free, with the implication that's a necessary thing for non-profits to do. I suggest looking at avalanche related non-profits on a site like Guidestar and seeing what they do and where the money comes from. One of the most profitable I found in the past provided nothing at all to the public for free and had all their revenue from teaching courses and consulting. We do what we can with what we have, and if you compare what we do for the public at large with other related non-profits we do pretty well.
If anyone has any questions or comments about our budget (or any other aspect of how things are run) please feel free to post them in the Feedback section on our forums. ( http://www.avalanche-center.org/phpBB2/) You do not need to register, although posting as a guest requires jumping through a few hoops in order to keep out the spammers.
The incidents section is being maintained but is a couple weeks behind, more on some of the European reports. It will ultimately be brought up to date and the database will continue to be as complete as possible at the end of the season. The RSS feed has not been kept up very well this season. There is also an email list members can subscribe to for updates every time additions are made to the incidents archive. This year updates have been sporadic and the list has been the best way to know when information is added.
Much of the avalanche news in the News Section is found in the course of updating incidents. Until last week I had not had time to create a 2008 page and add this calendar years news. There are now some new stories from the first couple months of 2008, and more that need to be uploaded in the next week or so. The RSS feed for the news stories has been updated when stories have been added.
There are a few reasons this has been a tough season. One of the biggest factors is that I've tried to work on a new project at the same time. Running the avalanche center is a full time endeavor, even though it doesn't pay. Whenever I get involved in something else it become hard to maintain the CSAC. While it has been hard to keep this project up to date it has also been hard to put the time I wanted to into the new endeavor. It is related, and even though my investment in it hasn't been what I had hoped it has proven successful. Summer is the time when I prefer to focus on new projects, if possible, and there will be more news on the new resource later as I prepare it for wider implementation next season.
I don't know what this means for the future of the avalanche center, although I plan to keep it in operation as long as people are willing to contribute enough to cover its expenses. What the project can offer depends on how much support it receives. One thing I won't do is make any kind of ultimatum that it will shut down if people don't come up with a certain amount of money. This approach has worked for others in the past, resulting in a budget that ultimately grows appreciably faster than the rate of inflation. But it's not an approach I've ever cared much for. The CSAC may need to continue to adapt to changing finances, but our history has shown that as a non-profit we can do that. We may have to offer less, reserve some things for members, or offer some things on a fee basis. But we will continue to be here in some capacity commensurate with our level of support.