Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Financial Trends of the Creation Museum

Answers in Genesis, the nonprofit that runs the well-known and highly-controversial Creation Museum, has seen its share of the spotlight in recent months, with a highly-publicized debate between Bill Nye and its CEO (Ken Ham) followed soon after by an announcement that construction of its new project, a Noah's ark-themed amusement park, would soon begin. Interestingly, much of the discussion of the organization and its efforts have centered around its finances, in particular its ability to generate sufficient funds for its latest endeavor.

I will not speculate about whether the organization has the financial ability to build and sustain its new project. Quite simply, too little information about that project's funding has been made available to say much of anything. However, all the publicity about the organization and its growth have led me to wonder about its broader financial picture. As the following figure shows, the trends don't quite match the media hype.

Answers in Genesis Annual Financial Performance
(Note: the data comes from the annual IRS Form 990 filings for Answers in Genesis from the inception of the Creation Museum until the most year made publicly available)

In short, no matter what benchmark one uses for revenues and/or profitability, the organization's finances exhibit a remarkably consistent (though not precipitous) decline. What, if anything, this portends for the new theme park I don't know for certain, but it's fair to say the finances don't alone demonstrate a mandate for the organization to expand.

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