Where Do Donations Go?
Funds raised for Scarleteen are applied towards:
• Basic upkeep: Overhead such as bandwidth, software, office costs, professional services, outreach and learning materials.
• Site development: In 2007, we have been making a full site upgrade to an extensive, custom-designed content management system, just recently launched, but not yet completed. The benefits of switching the site into a custom content management system are vast. This allows us to more easily and more often update the site with new content, as well as allowing us to far more efficiently update existing articles with new information when things change, which is a constant with sexuality, sexual health, and teen sexuality laws and policies. It will also allow us the means to add reading lists and additional resources to static articles easily, and update them constantly. With a new system, we are able to integrate our blog into the main site more cohesively, provide for more opportunities for teens and young adults to post their own pieces and narratives, and allow for dialoging directly on articles when users need clarifications or more information. This new system also helps better divide the workload between staff and volunteers, and if and when we are able to add another paid staff member, will help make the current worklaod for our sole paid staffer far more manageable. As well as upgrading the site's functionality, design updates will also be made.
Given the size of the site and how long it has been online, the upgrade has been neither inexpensive nor simple. It involved an expense of a few thousand dollars, as well as vast additional labor by myself and other staff to complete and refine.
• Paid writers and stipends for staff: Up until now, the vast majority of the articles at Scarleteen have been authored by myself, primarily because of the costs of labor for well-informed, skilled sexuality writers. To both keep the information on the site diverse (in terms of voice, tone and perspective: accuracy is always a given), the ability to pay writers is critical.
As of the current date, the only paid staff member is myself (and I could seriously use a raise). However, several of our volunteers have worked for years diligently, as well as entering into sexual health fields as professionals, and the ability to pay them even minimally for at least some of their time is ideal. Paying staff some form of stipend allows us to retain our most loyal, experienced and able volunteers, which is an obvious benefit to Scarleteen and our users. Ideally, we would also like to have a part-time in-person hire in the near future to help with fundraising, development and outreach as well as other duites so that the majority of the extensive workload does not fall on one person.
• Extended outreach and continued education: Increased funds would allow our staff and volunteers to travel for conferences, classes and workshops which would extend the reach of Scarleteen, allow us to better work with other similar organizations and benefit our users with our staff having the ability for additional learning. We would also like to begin producing pamphlets for clinics and schools with some of our most basic information, as well as lists of resources.
• Book and site promotion: While promotion of the upcoming young adult sexuality guide, S.E.X. obviously benefits the author, book promotion is vital to sustain the site and organization as well. Book promotional events will involve community outreach and education for parents and teens, as well as opportunities to raise awareness about the need for inclusive, comprehensive sexuality education for teens and young adults, and to further the reach of Scarleteen. Solid sales of the book will help financially support Scarleteen.com and help net us more funds for further outreach and networking in the future. Also, ventures which promote the book will help us to get it into the hands of youth who do not have the level of Internet availability or unfettered access that many of our users do.
• Financial stability: just a few years ago, Scarleteen was within arms reach of having to shut down entirely because donations were not even high enough to pay for basic bandwidth costs and site upkeep. Thankfully, a generous private donor stepped in with a private grant which has allowed our doors to remain open. Unfortunately, since that time, donations have remained low -- with an average of just one donation per 500,000 users (we serve an average of 20,000 users per day with the basic site, and answer questions one-one one for around 50 users a day on average) -- and as this grant will not be available at this level on a permanent basis, it is important that we have enough funds to sustain us so that we do not find ourselves in that position again.
- Heather Corinna