The Skinny on Our Budget

In 2008, Scarleteen received $36,025 in private grants, individual donations, gifts, t-shirt and book sales and other income. Individual donations accounted for $5,300 of gross receipts. Scarleteen's expenses for 2008 from that revenue totaled: $16,655 for full-time staff salary (for our executive director), $15,370 for website and other administrative costs, $3,500 for supplies and materials and $500 for travel and other miscellaneous costs.

As of November 1st, 2009, Scarleteen has received approximately $42,000 in revenue, the bulk of which is from a single private grant, as was also the case from 2002-2008. Only around $8,000 of our 2009 income so far has come from individual donations, $3,000 of which was from a single donor who initiated a matching campaign for donations made between February and March of this year. Our budget for this year includes the expenses of 2008 and an additional $28,000 in expenses. Those include the costs of the Peer Sex Educator Training program, the new SMS service, print materials in development, increased travel and administrative expenses, equipment and repair costs and a needed staff salary increase. We would also like to be able to retain a grantwriter before 2010 and to provide our volunteers with a small stipend for the holidays.

In order to meet our needs and sustain our organization we will require an annual operating budget of at least $75,000 at a minimum from here on out. That budget is exceptionally cost-effective and reasonable for the level of service we provide, especially compared to other sex education organizations and initiatives, including those which do not match our reach and our level of direct-service. We also believe it is especially reasonable for the unique model, aims and approach of Scarleteen and for an organization with our tenure online.

Comparing Costs

There are few websites providing comprehensive, in-depth sex education for youth and fewer still near the level Scarleteen does. We are the highest ranking site for young adult sex education as well as the highest ranking site for general sexuality advice. It is currently ranked by Alexa as 27,823 of all Internet sites internationally, and ranked at 11,210 in the United States. Around 40% of our traffic is based in the U.S., 20% in India, and around 10% in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada combined. Our core users are 15-24 and diverse in their race, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Planned Parenthood's Teenwire had a nearly-identical reach, but the website was closed in the last year (the Planned Parenthood website absorbed much of its content, but a unique site for teens from Planned Parenthood is no longer available). Most other web-based sex education initiatives are not even ranked in the top 100,000 sites on the Internet. Cool Nurse has an overall ranking of 127,821 and is ranked at 138,581 in the U.S. The Coalition for Positive Sexuality has a global rank of 156,016 and is ranked at 94,993 in the states alone. The Gay Youth Corner is 311,334th of all sites and 94, 580th in the U.S. MTV's sex education website, It's Your Sex Life, has a 844,214 overall traffic ranking, and is ranked 659,346th of all sites in the United States alone.

The most similar sex education website and initiative to our own both in reach and in mission (and one we support and are glad to call colleague) went online in 2002 and is currently ranked at 46,938 of all sites and is 45,297 of all sites in the U.S. (All Alexa rankings listed were accessed on 11/12/2009) Their most recent annual report states they receive 2.6 million page views per month (31.2 annually) and around 22,000 unique visitors daily. In 2008, they has nine full-time and four part-time employees.

While their traffic and reach are currently lower than ours and their tenure online has been shorter, their organization has an operating budget of over 1 million dollars a year. And over 100,000 dollars of their funding was from individual donors: the bulk of those donations were in the $100 - 250 range.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy received 10.5 million in 2007 in direct public support. Their CEO's annual salary for 36 hours per week is listed as 200K with a benefits package valued at 35K in addition to that. Their teen outreach website, isn't in the top 100,000 websites online: it is ranked 853,627 by Alexa. Via Alexa's demographics,'s largest userbase is also not teenage, but 35-44 year-olds and/or people with children.

Let's be sure to take a look at the abstinence-only "sex ed" organizations. On top of massive federal funding, they also receive a high level of individual donations. The Abstinence Clearinghouse nets 624,000 in individual donations. Leslee Unruh, their executive director, had an annual salary in 2006 of $85,000. Another abstinence-only organization, The Silver Ring Thing nets over 1 million dollars in public support annually.

While the present (and past!) economy has certainly been challenging for many of us, other organizations still are doing well with individual donations, including those which stand counter both to the aims and mission of organizations like Scarleteen, and who actively oppose the kind of inclusive, accurate, comprehensive and compassionate sex education and sexuality messaging to young people that youth and those who support us and others like us want most.

Again, what Scarleteen needs to survive and thrive is a yearly operating budget of at least 75K. To reach that goal, we intend to continue meeting the conditions of -- and asking for a continuation of -- our existing grant as well as seeking out new grants and other types of financial support. But we also need our level of individual donations to radically increase. Considering the number of people we serve, how many of them are youth, and the budget of other similar (and certainly opposing) initiatives providing less service, that's hardly large. Scarleteen is an incredibly cost-effective service, and our primary private grantor states she has never made a more cost-effective grant than the one she provides to Scarleteen.

  • To donate to Scarleteen by credit card, online check or via a PayPal account: click here and choose the button at the top of that page for the donation amount and style you prefer.
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  • If you would like your donation to be tax-deductible: you can donate by check or money order through The Center for Sex and Culture, a fiscal sponsor of Scarleteen online here. To mail a tax-deductible donation, make your check out to The Center for Sex and Culture, writing "For Scarleteen" in the memo. Mail that to: The Center for Sex and Culture, c/o Carol Queen, 2215-R Market Street PMB 455, San Francisco, CA, 94114. They will send a written acknowledgment of your donation to you for tax purposes, and will send us donations made to them on our behalf after deducting a very reasonable percentage.
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