PEERS Annual Report 2008
You are awesome. You have put together five very well crafted, user friendly (intuitive and easy to navigate), extremely valuable, full featured websites that are flawless. ~~ David on 1/30/2008
PEERS (Public Education and Empowerment Resource Service) was officially incorporated on January 4, 2006 as a nonprofit umbrella organization for all of the websites under its management. As of the end of 2008, PEERS has been building community and providing inspiration and education free of charge to millions of interested people around the globe for three years.
With a total volume in 2008 of 2.3 million visits (more than double that of 2007), and with visitors from over 200 countries (including Antarctica and the Vatican!), the empowering work on our websites is truly reaching every corner of our world. PEERS experienced significant expansion and several new developments in 2008, the most exciting being the launch of our new Insight Course website in late November. More about that later.
PEERS had a total income of $41,365 in 2008, just slightly above last year's $40,453. Yet $20,000 of the income last year was donated by me (Executive Director Fred Burks), whereas this year I donated only $5,000. Subtracting these amounts, this year's donations increased an impressive 75% over the previous year. In 2008, supportive contributions were made to PEERS by a total of nearly 240 individuals, 80 of whom donated $100 or more, and eight who generously contributed $1,000 or more. All of these figures are double or more last year's numbers.
Automatic monthly contributions generally make up around one-third of our contributions. Where at the end of 2007 we had 21 individuals giving automatic donations, at the close of 2008 we had 37 people supporting us in this way. Even so, several key supporters stopped donating for various reasons, some being negatively impacted by the financial downturn. In December, our most generous supporter ($500/month) stopped donating along with one other $100/month contributor who left his job. Though we are sad to lose their financial support, we are extremely grateful for all that they gave in this last year, and for the moral support they continue to give.
So even with the large increase in numbers of monthly supporters, the overall amount received from them has dropped. We rose from nearly $800 in monthly donations at the beginning of the year to a high of over $1,250/month at midyear, yet have now dropped to just over $600/month at the end of the year. This is a significant drop, though we've built up a buffer that will help to mitigate this loss.
Expenses for the year totaled $35,208, down a few thousand from last year's $38,524. The decrease was due to a change in Tod Fletcher's status from full-time employee to part-time contractor, as we could no longer justify paying for a full-time position. Tod now works 12 hours/week compiling the excellent weekly news summaries which go out to the WantToKnow.info list. I continue to work full-time on a volunteer basis, though I hope one day to be paid when the finances can support this.
$30,780 of last year's expenses went to pay for work by both Tod and Andrey Samodeenko. Andrey continues to do top-notch work in maintaining and building our websites, databases, community forums, and more on a part-time contractual basis. The remaining $4,428 covered Internet hosting expenses, software, books and DVD's used on the website, supplies, insurance, and more. To see the QuickBooks form listing profit and loss figures for PEERS in 2008, click here. For our profit and loss since inception, click here. For our balance sheet as of the end of 2008, click here.
The statements at the above links were prepared without official audit of our books and records, though they have been carefully reviewed by me, as the executive director, and certified by Treasurer Declan Banfield. PEERS had no liabilities at the end of the year. All donations were unrestricted. We had a net gain last year of $6,157. Added to the previous year’s balance of $9,018, our assets and net balance at the end of 2008 are $15,175. We are glad to have this buffer, as this amount may significantly decrease next year due to the large drop in monthly donations.
Insight Course Launched
The most exciting development for PEERS this year has been the launch of our new Insight Course on November 24th. The Transformation Course, which launched in September 2007, was designed for those on a deep spiritual path. Once this course was up and running and getting such great reviews, we realized that it would be beneficial to make a non-spiritual version of the course, which would likely attract larger numbers of people.
So eventually all language of a spiritual nature was removed, and we named the new course the Insight Course. The great thing about this new course is that, though it contains much of the same powerfully transformational material, we feel very comfortable recommending it to anyone, which we didn't with the Transformation Course. And we've created a new support center for people taking both courses. At the end of 2008, this center had almost 100 people registered for the Transformation Course and 24 for the Insight Course.
We're planning to develop two new courses in 2009 which are also versions of the same material. The Inspiration Course will be designed specifically for those who prefer to focus largely on love and light. We will take only the inspiring lessons of the Insight Course and put them all together into one package, which will thus include about 10 lessons (as compared to 21 in the other two courses) and take about 10 hours to complete. And for some of our WantToKnow.info friends and others who are turned off by too much inspiration, we plan to develop a course which will only include the lessons dealing with key information which is being hidden from the public.
We've recently set up a new central website which will eventually serve as a home website introducing all four of these courses. Our new support center, designed for all who are taking any of these courses, and our new video section are also located on this new website, which you can find at www.personalgrowthcourses.net. So PEERS now has eight websites, soon to be ten after the two new courses are finished. We're also developing individual community networking portals where graduates of each of these courses can directly connect with and inspire each other.
After a great start in 2007 for the Transformation Course on the Transformation Team (TT) website, things slowed down a bit before picking up again late in the year. And on the TT community networking portal, there has been lots of great activity and many wonderful friendships made, though a few unexpected challenges early in the year caused a drop in interest there. Yet great connections are continually being made and there are some real gems among the many thousands of messages and comments now posted. The comments of those who complete the Transformation Course have continued to be absolutely stellar. Our appreciations page for the course gives a sampling of these.
The total number of people who completed the Transformation Course as of the end of 2008 was 142, with 125 from 15 countries signed in as members on our community portal. Donations from those who finished the course have been wonderful, and a big part of the increase in income for PEERS this year. Over 50% of those who finished the course have given contributions, with the average being around $200. Seven TT members have generously contributed $500 or more.
The material in the Transformation Course is improving all the time. Andrey designed a great new look for the whole website. And four insightful quotes were added to each lesson directly related to the topic being discussed, most of them by very well known and respected people. We also started hosting videos on our website in May, where before that we had links to other websites for all of the videos used in the course.
Within a couple weeks of getting the new video section going, one of the videos unexpectedly went viral. The three-minute video of a TED talk with Michael Shermer presenting Prof. Dan Simons work showing how our perception can easily be deceived began receiving ever greater numbers of viewers. In just three weeks, it went from a couple hundred views a day to a couple thousand and on to an amazing 40,000 views per day for 10 days! This is even more than the previous record 28,000 views in one day we got for our best day on WantToKnow.info.
Unfortunately, Prof. Simons, on whose work this short clip was based, asked us to take the video down, as he felt it infringed on his proprietary rights to the video. Eventually we came to a compromise with him, where he agreed to show a short form of the video on his website to which we now link. Once we made this change, interest in the video dropped dramatically and settled in at about 100 views per day. Largely as a result of this one video, the TT website pulled in nearly 880,000 views last year. 500,000 of those were in the 15 days when the video was most popular.
The Transformation Course continues to have an undeniable impact. We get occasional comments from the participants moving through it about many serendipities that happen in their lives, and how they are experiencing transformation in life-changing ways. Two people who just recently finished the course discovered that they live in Europe less than an hour from each other, have both lived in the San Francisco area, and have studied under the same spiritual teacher. They had already even heard of each other through mutual friends before they started the course, yet only now are they finally planning to meet in person, thanks to the course and its associated community portal.
Other PEERS Websites
All of our websites and email lists experienced an increase in interest this year, with the Web of Love website more than doubling the number of visits last year. The WantToKnow.info email list increased by about 1,500 to over 6,000 subscribers. Our inspiration and education list increased by over 300 to a total of more than 1,500 subscribers. And we now have subscribers from over 100 countries on every continent.
The Global Community for All (GCA) website, the first website created back in early 2002 before PEERS was incorporated, is no longer very relevant to all we're doing. Because of this, we stopped Inspirations, the e-zine that I sent out every three months to the GCA email list, which had just over 300 subscribers. As a result, the website will now require practically no maintenance. There are still plenty of great, inspiring stories there for any who visit the website. Visits to the GCA website this year increased by 5% to almost 20,000 visits, or about 55 visits a day on average.
The Moment of Love website increased by 28% to over 36,000 visits for the year or 100 per day on average. This is our introductory website for the courses and thankfully requires very little attention. The Web of Love (WOL) website had a remarkable 120% increase in visits to over 180,000 visits for the year or 500 visits a day. WOL had an astonishing record 12,000 visits in one day when a very popular personal blog recommended our moving "Last Cab Ride" story.
Though the Transformation Team website had that amazing record spike because of the perception video, WantToKnow.info (WTK) continues to be our most popular website. The number of visits this year increased 18% to 1.16 million or over 3,000 visits a day. And the WTK database of powerful news article summaries has now increased to over 2,000. We've also added an amazingly revealing new section for articles related to the huge banking bailout that happened this year.
A couple great people from the Netherlands contacted us this year with an interest in creating a Dutch-language version of WTK. I sent them all of our information and was thrilled that they followed through and have created a beautiful new website at http://www.wanttoknow.nl. They even donated $1,000 to PEERS. Our message is definitely spreading
Invites for radio interviews continue to come in on a regular basis. On average, I have done about one interview a month, though in late September I had four interviews in the space of five days. A couple weeks later, the Voice of America (VOA) interviewed me for I believe the fourth time in the last three years. VOA is the U.S. government-sponsored radio program broadcast in the Indonesian language throughout Indonesia to hundreds of thousands of listeners. I'm amazed that they continue to want to hear my uncensored critiques of all that is going on in the U.S. and the world.
It's been a wild year on planet Earth. We had the great joy of Barack Obama being elected the first African-American president of the U.S., the blatant money scamming of the banking bailout, wild fluctuations in oil prices, and real estate and stock market values dropping over 40% as the crazy housing bubble finally burst. Things are shaking big time in our world. It's a very exciting time to be alive, and PEERS continues to play a key role in awakening many thousands of people to the deeper realities and inspiring us all to work together for the greater good of all humanity.
Most of our time and energy in the coming year will likely continue to be focused on developing the two new online courses mentioned above and further improving the two existing courses. Andrey is also currently developing a beautiful, new community networking portal which will serve interested participants who complete any of the courses. And Tod will continue compiling the most excellent weekly news summaries which go out to our popular WantToKnow.info email list.
We are extremely grateful to Tod and Andrey, to the members of our board, to our many generous donors, and to all of our readers and supporters who continue to give us so much appreciation and encouragement. As we all join in working together for the greater good of humankind, may this coming year bring inspiring hope and empowering change to our world, and may our lives be filled with ever more love, joy, and meaning.
You guys rock!! I love your emails. Thank you x a million for all the information + incredible links you put in your info to back up your findings. I appreciate it 100%! ~~ Star on 12/30/2008
PEERS 2008 Annual Report
Compiled and Written By
PEERS Executive Director