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DEAR PROCON.ORG READERS: We’re being outspent by biased organizations that use millions of dollars to misinform you. This week we’re asking our readers to help us. We survive on donations, which keep us independent and ad-free. If every one of our readers gave $3 now, the price of a cup of coffee, our fundraiser would be over. We’re a small nonprofit, but it costs a lot to keep our servers, research staff, and programs going. ProCon.org is your oasis on the Internet for unbiased information on important issues. If ProCon.org is useful to you, please take a minute to keep us online and ad-free. Thank you.
THE LEADING SOURCE FOR PROS & CONS OF CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES
2010 was productive and successful for ProCon.org. Some of our major accomplishments and events for the year were:
We added 10 new issue websites (in alphabetical order): Abortion, Climate Change, Clinton, Concealed Guns, D.A.R.E., Gay Marriage, Health Care Reform, Reagan, Vaccines, and WTC Muslim Center (I. below).
We enhanced our resources for teachers and expanded the list of schools that use ProCon.org from 932 at the end of 2009 to 1,502 at the end of 2009 (II. below).
Kamy Akhavan became our new President on Dec. 7, 2010 (III. below).
Our traffic increased 58% from 6,523,545 sessions in 2009 to 10,322,703 sessions in 2010 (IV. below).
We were the subject of a peer-reviewed scientific study about language and politics (V. below).
We were referenced in the mainstream media 120 times in 2010 compared to 76 times in 2009 (VI. below).
We received over 1,000 responses to our ProCon.org User Survey of high school students (VII. below).
We corresponded with hundreds of VIPs who helped improve our content (VIII. below).
We started the year with 4,656 email subscribers and ended 2010 with 25,830 (IX. below).
We increased the average number of external sites per month that link to ProCon.org sites from 105,503 in 2009 to 168,099 in 2010, a 59% increase (X. below).
We added a new feature - the "Cite" button - to all ProCon.org pages so readers can easily and properly add ProCon.org content to their bibliographies and endnotes (XI. below)
Our organization ended 2010 with a staff of eight in-house full-time employees vs. nine at 12/31/09. (XII. below).
We held our first interactive exhibit at the San Diego Science Festival and drew over 500 participants to our donated double booth (XIII. below).
In 2010 we received contributions from 157 donors - a 171% increase from the 58 donors we had in 2009 (XIV. below).
Thanks to our readers for your continued interest in the information we supply, and thanks to our talented researchers, IT Manager, President/Managing Editor, Board Members, interns, and volunteers. Thanks as well to our expert sources, the media who referenced us, the hundreds of teachers who used our content in the classroom, and to the millions of ProCon.org readers who helped our organization become so successful. And a big thanks to all our supporters for your helping us continue our good work.
My thanks again to everyone who helped us achieve so much in 2010.
10 New Issue Websites: In 2010 we added 10 new websites in one year. Those 10 sites are listed below in the order in which they became publicly available:
On Jan. 18, 2010, ProCon.org launched the website Vaccines ProCon.org to explore the question "Should any vaccines be required for children?" The site received 60,928 sessions in 2010.
On Feb. 18, 2010, we launched the website D.A.R.E. ProCon.org to explore the core question "Is the D.A.R.E. program good for America's kids (K-12)?" The site received 48,773 sessions in 2010 and received one media reference.
On Mar. 31, 2010, we launched the website Concealed Guns ProCon.org to explore the question "Should adults have the right to carry a concealed handgun?" The site received 38,665 sessions in 2009 and received one media reference.
On Apr. 21, 2010, we launched the website Abortion ProCon.org to explore the question "Should abortion be legal?" The site received 55,986 sessions in 2010.
On June 15, 2010, we launched the website Climate Change ProCon.org to explore the question "Is human activity a substantial cause of global climate change?" The site received 23,580 sessions in 2010.
On Sep. 2, 2010, we launched the website Health Care Reform ProCon.org to explore the question "Are the March 2010 federal health care reform laws good for America?" The site received 41,863 sessions in 2010 and was referenced in the media four times by media outlets such as an NBC affiliate and The Hill.
On Sep. 16, 2010, we launched the website Gay Marriage ProCon.org to explore the core question "Should gay marriage be legal?" The site received 27,572 sessions in 2010.
On Oct. 5, 2010, we launched the website WTC Muslim Center ProCon.org to explore the core question "Is it appropriate to build a Muslim community center (aka the "Ground Zero Mosque") near the World Trade Center site?" The site received 18,069 sessions in 2010 and received one media reference.
On Oct. 18, 2010, we launched the website Reagan ProCon.org to explore the core question "Was Ronald Reagan a good president?" The site received 8,409 sessions in 2010.
On Oct. 18, 2010, we launched the website Clinton ProCon.org to explore the core question "Was Bill Clinton a good president?" The site received 6,048 sessions in 2010.
ProCon.org for Teachers: ProCon.org expanded the list of schools that use ProCon.org from 932 schools at the end of 2009 to 1,502 at the end of 2010. We add schools to this list when we see that an educator (not a student) from that school has referenced ProCon.org online, usually in a lesson plan or suggested resources list. We include a PDF of the lesson plan so that other educators can get ideas and draw inspiration from each other.
Those schools were from 32 different countries including (in alphabetical order): Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Macedona, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom.
The breakdown of schools by level is as follows: 279 elementary and middle schools, 711 high schools, and 512 colleges and universities.
In 2011, we will continue to make our extensive resources available at no charge to teachers, librarians, administrators, other educators, students, and others. We believe that most of the approximate 100,000 schools in America would love ProCon.org if only they knew about it. We would appreciate it if you would tell all the teachers, librarians, administrators, other educators, and students you know about us and our work.
Kamy Akhavan Becomes President of ProCon.org: On Dec. 7, 2010, Kamy Akhavan, Managing Editor of ProCon.org, became President of ProCon.org. Kamy, who has been with ProCon.org since Dec. 7, 2004, also continued his duties as Managing Editor.
Traffic: ProCon.org websites received 10,322,703 sessions in 2010 compared to 6,523,545 sessions in 2009 - a 58% increase. By the end of 2010, our websites had received a total number of 30,052,101 sessions since the organization's formal inception in 2004. The detailed traffic chart appears below.
A session is any 30-minute or less period of time in which an individual IP address accesses one or more files from one ProCon.org website. This definition of a "session" comes from Urchin (now owned by Google) - the software program used to track our website traffic.
* These websites existed prior to the formal creation of ProCon.org in July 12, 2004. Read more about the origins of these websites and how they relate to ProCon.org by clicking here.
Aside from sessions, our sites also recorded 6,060,232 absolute unique visitors, 26,712,712 pageviews, and 304,898,256 hits in 2010.
Scientific Study on Procon.org: For the first time, ProCon.org was the subject of a peer-reviewed scientific study. Max-Planck Institute for Informatics researchers published the study "Language-Model-based Pro/Con Classification of Political Text” in the Proceedings of the 33rd International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval. The paper basically concluded that pros and cons work well to classify controversial political topics.
In the News: ProCon.org received 120 media references in 2010 compared to 76 in 2009, 55 in 2008, and 16 in 2007. The references started on Jan. 5, 2010 with the Huffington Post. Alan Thicke played to win money for ProCon.org on a special celebrity edition of Don't Forget the Lyrics!, a game show on VH1. President and Managing Editor Kamy Akhavan was interviewed ten times on radio stations across the country. After one interview on Fox News Radio (Indianapolis), the host said, "ProCon.org is a great site for unbiased information. Allowing my listeners to form their own opinions is important. That is why I enjoy interviewing the people of ProCon.org on my program. They are the best at describing both sides of a debate." Other notable media references include CNN, the Washington Post, Yahoo! News, CNBC, Reuters, the Guardian, AOL News, AARP Bulletin, and Fox News Radio.
ProCon.org User Survey: We started a ProCon.org User Survey on Oct. 28, 2009 to get input from high school students using ProCon.org. The survey received 1,022 responses by Mar. 1, 2010.
Some notable results from the survey include:
- 40.9% of high school students who spent more than five hours on ProCon.org scored between 2200 and 2400 on the SAT, at least 46% higher than the national average score of 1509.
- Students who used ProCon.org more than once were 21.1% more likely to be enrolled in Honors or Advanced Placement (AP) classes and 14.3% more likely to hold a school leadership position such as student government, club president, or team captain.
1. Have you used ProCon.org to help you with a school assignment?
Yes, more than once
2. How much total time would you estimate that you've spent at ProCon.org (not just this visit but all your visits combined)?
I have never visited ProCon.org until today
Less than 1 hour
1 - 5 hours
More than 5 hours
3. Do you plan on going to college or university?
4. Are you a member of any school organizations such as student government, clubs, sports teams, etc.?
5. Do you hold any leadership positions in school such as student government, club leadership, team captain, etc.?
6. Are you enrolled in any Honors or Advanced Placement (AP) classes?
7. What was your highest score on the SAT or PSAT test out of a maximum score of 2400?
I never took the SAT or PSAT
VIP Correspondence: We've received beneficial feedback and/or content from many VIPs. Here's a random sample (in alphabetical order):
Gregg Barak, PhD, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Eastern Michigan University
Paul Barron, Director of Library and Archives at the George C. Marshall Foundation
Thomas G. Blomberg, Dean and Sheldon L. Messinger Professor of Criminology at Florida State University
Dave Brian, Editor of The 420 Times
Michael Bugeja, Director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University
Daniel J. Carlat, Editor-in-Chief, Carlat Psychiatry Report
Kyle Clanton, Executive Producer, Listen uP! Radio on WEAA FM of Maryland Public Radio
Todd R. Clear, Dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University
Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Chair of the Department of Politics and International Politics at the University of Hull
Robert J. Cottrol, PhD, Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law and Professor of History and Sociology at George Washington University
Andrew Couts, Associate Editor at TheWeek.com
Barry M. Dank, PhD, Founding Editor of Sexuality and Culture
Peter Dunn, Fox News Radio Indianapolis
Lauren Duran, Director of Communications for the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University
Mark Eddy, Specialist in Social Policy for the Congressional Research Service
Aziz Farag, Saudi TV
Christopher J. Ferguson, PhD, Professor of Behavioral, Applied Sciences and Criminal Justice at Texas A&M International University
Robert I. Field, JD, MPH, PhD, Professor of Law, Earle Mack School of Law and Professor of Health Management and Policy at the Drexel University School of Public Health
Guillaume de Fondaumiere, Former President of the French National Video Game Association
Kenneth R. Fulton, Executive Director of the National Academy of Sciences
Frank Gaskill, PhD, Founding and Managing Partner of Southeast Psych
John Gaudiosi, Reporter for Reuters
Matania Ginosaur, former Lechi [Stern Gang] member
Ned Griffith, Senior Public Affairs Specialist, Government Accountability Office (GAO)
David Hanson, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, State University of New York at Potsdam
Alexes Harris, PhD, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington
Muhammad Ali Hasan, MFA, Co-founder of Muslims for America
Andrea Hess, Pharm D, Assistant Editor of Pharmacist’s Letter/ Prescriber’s Letter
Steven G. Horwitz, Dana Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University
Yuval Itan, PhD, Researcher in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at the University College of London
A.M. "Jake" Jacocks, Jr., Chief of Police (Ret.) and Board Member of the Virginia Beach Police Foundation
M. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Adam J. Keigwin, Chief of Staff, Office of Senator Leland Yee, Assistant President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate
David Kelley, PhD, Executive Director of the Atlas Society
Kenneth Klukowski, JD, Fellow and Senior Legal Analyst with the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU)
Becca Knox, MPH/MSW, Director of Research at The Brady Center
Lawrence Kutner, PhD, Executive Director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
Robert R. Lang, Staff Director of the Standing Committee on Substance Abuse at the American Bar Association
Steven Lapham, Associate Editor, National Council for the Social Studies
Noam N. Levey, Health policy reporter for the Los Angeles Times
Pete Ludovice, Producer & Host, Inside the Black Box – "Science, Only Funnier"
Evan Mandery, JD, Chair of John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York
Ira Mehlman, Media Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform
Darin Miller, Media Coordinator for Family Research Council
Jeffrey Miron, PhD, Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University, and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute
Jeffrey A. Mittman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Alaska
Jefferson Morley, National Editorial Director of the Center for Independent Media
John Patrick Mullins, PhD, Assistant Professor of History at Marymount University
Michael Newdow, Founder of the First Amendmist Church of True Science
Email Updates & Reader Response: We started the year with 4,656 email subscribers and ended 2010 with 25,830. Some respones from our email updates and our "contact us" tabs are provided below. Over 99% of the feedback we received was favorable or neutral to our overall efforts.
"Procon.org has developed a web-page wherein present-day issues are clearly displayed and condensed, so as to show both sides of a given argument. Pages are free from bias; no political or likewise affiliation can be seen. It is, in essence, fair. Fair to us viewers, who are searching for information and longing to assimilate the facts required to formulate our own opinions. I would like to speak on behalf of the many individuals in my immediate family who make usage of Procon.org in extending a huge thank-you for your initiative to turn present-day society into a well-informed, intelligent population." Nicholas, MA, English Professor, Dec. 6, 2010
"I have always had a keen interest in fair public policy, and to the extent that ProCon.org helps to create an accurate and fair understanding of many issues, it makes me proud to be a supporter." Michael Klein, investment banker and former part-owner of the San Diego Chargers, Nov. 2, 2010
"I found your website by chance. My daughter needed a controversial topic for her college speech class so I googled 'controversial topics' and your website was in the first 5 or so that came up. I LOVE your site - I am amazed at the amount of information to be found under each topic, organized by the Pro and the Con sides of the argument. Very nicely done! Thanks again!" Deena, Oct. 22, 2010
"ProCon.org is a great site for unbiased information. Allowing my listeners to form their own opinions is important. That is why I enjoy interviewing the people of ProCon.org on my program. They are the best at describing both sides of a debate." Peter Dunn, Fox News Radio Indianapolis, Aug. 17, 2010
"Although I am a psychologist, I have additional post graduate degrees in Healthcare policy and clinical psychopharmacology. When I saw your site I was really impressed not only for the content but for the idea of wanting issues to be seen from both sides. Unlike cable 'news' that shows two sides simply to demonstrate 'fairness' in politics -- but really doesn't -- policy issues really do need be discussed from all perspectives. So I applaud your effort. And will be placing a story in our newsletter about the site." John Caccavale, PhD, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers (NAPPP), July 16, 2010
"ProCon.org is an incredibly practical and effective web site for teaching and learning. The well-researched pro/con issues provide much non-biased information for students and staff researching contemporary topics. The topic selections are worthwhile and of much value for research papers, class discussions and debates. I recommended this web site while teaching grad courses at Pratt Institute’s SILS (School of Information & Library Science).
The ProCon.org web site is a unique resource that will enhance critical thinking and student inquiry through analysis of issues." Harriet Selverstone, Past President American Association of School Librarians, July 15, 2010
"Thank you for your expeditious and effective response to my email. I'm impressed - few organizations are ever that efficient!... I wish you and ProCon the greatest success." Michael Newdow, MD, JD, June 18, 2010
"Excellent website. I'm building more activities into my classes using ProCon.org." James C. Funk, Esq., Professor of Business Technologies, Marion Technical College, Mar. 15, 2010
"I recently heard your organization on NPR as a supporter, and want to say thank you. I just found your website and feel compelled to say what a wonderful service you are providing to people who truly want to know the honest facts regarding issues that are being discussed. Thank you and please keep up the great work!" Bridgette, Feb. 8, 2010
"Odd, you don't mention that the border fence could be constructed for a cost less than a year in Iraq. Or, the contribution to our crime rates by illegals. Or, the fact that illegal immigration is a tool of the Marxist ideologues in this country. I could go on. The point is: you have a watered down leftist web site." Jamie, July 2, 2010
"Your first question ['Should all Americans have the right (be entitled) to health care?'] is bogus. All Americans already have the ‘Right' to health care and health care insurance - they just have to pay for it. Here is a thought, buy health insurance before you decide to take that trip to Disney World! Read the Constitution and tell me where people who carry heath insurance have more rights than people who do not have health insurance. Anyone (citizen, illegal immigrant, or foreigner) can walk into any Emergency Room in this country and get treatment whether they have health insurance or not… No, do not develop any more sites as you cannot conduct an unbiased poll." Paula, Feb. 25, 2010
Linked Sites: The number of 3rd party websites that linked to ProCon.org in 2009 was 105,603 per month. In 2010, that average increased to 168,099 - a 59% increase!
Cite Button: On Sep. 24, 2010, we added the "Cite" button to all ProCon.org pages so readers can get any ProCon.org page's bibliographic or endnote citation according to the Modern Language Association Style Manual (MLA), the Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago), the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), and Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Turabian) - four of the most popular bibliographic protocols (XI. below).
Staff: Our organization ended 2010 with a full-time staff of eight in-house employees compared to nine at the end of 2009. Our 2010 end-of-year staff included five researchers, one IT Manager, one President & Managing Editor, and me, our Chairman (unpaid).
San Diego Science Festival: The San Diego Science Festival donated a double booth to ProCon.org, and we created an interactive exhibit of pros and cons on two featured topics: whether obesity is a disease and whether social networking sites are good for society. About 500-600 people participated in our interactive booth including students, teachers, scientists, parents, and others. Check out some photos from the event to see how much critical thinking took place in our booth.
Financials: We received charitable contributions from 157 donors in 2010 - a 171% increase over the 58 donors we had in 2009.
The 2010 financial data will be posted as soon as our audited financials are completed. In the meanwhile, our 2004-2009 Financial Information for ProCon.org appears below. Prior year audited financials and 990 reports are also available on our "About Us" page.
In 2009 ProCon.org received total gross income from donations of $660,012 down from $776,297 in 2008. Of our $720,151 in 2009 expenses, $618,097 (85.8%) was spent on program services, $62,527 (8.7%) on management and general expenses, and $39,527 (5.5%) on fundraising expenses. ProCon.org operates with such a high percentage of its expenditures in program services for several reasons, including: we spend small amounts to yield large amounts of funds raised, our operation is remarkably efficient, and our Chairman has refused a salary since we started.
2. 2009 vs. 2004 - 2008 Expenses: A Graphical Breakdown
3. Detailed Chart of Financial Data, 2004-2009
For the 12 Months Ending Dec. 31, 2009
% of Total
For the 12 Months Ending Dec. 31, 2008
% of Total
For the 12 Months Ending Dec. 31, 2007
% of Total
For the 12 Months Ending Dec. 31, 2006
% of Total
For the 12 Months Ending Dec. 31, 2005
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For the 6 Months Ending Dec. 31, 2004
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Total Contributions (Unrestricted)
2. Efficiency of Expenditures:
Program Services Expenditures*
Management & General Expenses**
3. Excess <Deficit> of Operating Revenue over <under> Expenses:
4. Balance Sheet:
- Cash & Cash Equivalents
- Payables & Accrued Expenses
- Net Worth <deficit>
Total Liabilities & Net Worth
4. Definitions of Terms Used
Program services are mainly those activities that the reporting organization was created to conduct and which, along with any activities commenced subsequently, form the basis of the organization's current exemption from tax.
Overall management expenses usually include the salaries and expenses of the chief officer of the organization and that officer's staff. General expenses include those for meetings of the board of directors or similar group; committee and staff meetings (unless held in connection with specific program services or fundraising activities); general legal services; accounting (including patient accounting and billing); general liability insurance; office management; auditing, personnel, and other centralized services; preparation, publication, and distribution of an annual report; and investment expenses.
Fundraising expenses are the total expenses incurred in soliciting contributions, gifts, grants, etc.