Whale watching: The wealthy donors keeping Scientology afloat, 2015 edition - 2015-05-03
After breaking tradition and holding its 2013 gala in Clearwater, Florida, the IAS returned this year to its usual place at Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, England, which was formerly the home of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
The IAS was started as a special fund in the 1980s when Scientology was fighting some costly lawsuits. It was seen as a way to build up a defense fund which, over time, became a slush fund for a myriad of initiatives the church runs around the world. In 2012, former church executive Debbie Cook estimated that Miscavige had more than a billion dollars just in the IAS fund. Scientologists are under intense pressure to become lifetime members of the IAS ($5,000) and then "up their status" by giving even larger donations.