Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Where Does the Worldcon's Money Go?

With the minor storm over L.A.con IV deciding that spending more than $30,000 to provide wi-fi service to their members was not a good use of the convention's resources (I agree), there has been some discussion of what a Worldcon spends its money on. There are some (IMO uniformed) people out there who have a hard time thinking that a Worldcon is spending money on anything because so much of what the convention must do is either invisible or taken for granted. So I dug through my files and did a rough breakdown of ConJose's income and expense by major category. I had to fiddle around quite a bit because the budget was arranged by division, but the expenses that get people excited are not necessarily neatly arranged. That's why there are several "other" categories and a miscellaneous into which a lot of small items from throughout the convention were rolled. If you really want to know this at a fine level of detail, e-mail me and I'll send you the line-item budget.

Another adjustment I made was to show only the net Art Show income (after paying the artists), rather than the gross. (ConJose's records showed the gross sales as income -- needed for sales-tax reporting -- and the payments to artists as a convention operating expense. I consider it misleading to show 15% of the convention's revenue that way because it's sequestered -- everything except the convention's commission goes to the artists.

So first we have how the convention's approximately $850,000 in revenue (net of art show; it was nearly $1 Million with that included) came to us. (I expect you'll need to click on the small graphics to get them large enough to read.)

As you can see, convention memberships are pretty much what keeps the con afloat. The other revenue is important, of course, but it's memberships that drive the convention.

Now, how did we spend that money? Since these reports are prepared four years after the convention and nearly a year after ConJose's Final Report to WSFS, they include all of the convention's revenue. ConJose has spent all of the money it took in. The total expenses, like the total revenue, were approximately $850,000. (I'd rather not introduce spurious precision here by quoting it to the penny, particularly because trying to aggregate reports like this across multiple years' reports means that there will be minor inconsistencies, but they are on the order of <0.5%.)

If you look at this, vast swaths of expenses are things like renting the convention center and paying the decorator (that's the tables and chairs and other furniture inside the convention center -- it ain't free, folks), or are things that are considered "entitlements" -- the post-con reimbursements. Things that get people so excited, like the Con Suite or Tech Services (shown separately from the Event-specific costs because ConJose had Tech Services in a different division than Events; that is, no one Event was charged the fixed cost of obtaining the tech kit any more than Programming wasn't charged the cost of renting the function rooms or Exhibits the cost of the Exhibit Halls; therefore, Events overall looks inexpensive.)

"Member Services" includes costs of Registration, Childcare, Scooters, and a number of smaller items. "Administration Other" includes the cost of renting office space for the two years leading up to and immediately after the convention.

Also note that Hugo Awards looks a little high, but that's because it was charged not only the direct cost of the trophies and plaques (about $5,600) but also costs associated with printing and mailing the Nominating ballot (mailed separately from a PR) and also of sending 2003 Nominating Ballots to all of ConJose's members to remind them that they were eligible to nominate.

Again, anyone who wants the fine details behind these numbers should write to me directly and I will send you the latest and I think last version (revision 50) of the ConJose budget, which shows every line item on which we received or spent money.

This message is posted as public. If you want to send it on to someone else or point people at it, I don't care, and you don't need to ask my permission to do so.

Edit, 10:45: Based on a comment, added explanation that expenses were also $850,000, the same as revenue.

Edit, 11:30: Modified the pie charts so that the charts themselves and their ScrapBook Gallery descriptions include the gross amount of approximately $850,000.
Tags: conjose, worldcon
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