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Fighting the Derail Since March 2009
Wiscon fundraiser: opinions wanted 
6th-Mar-2009 07:58 pm
wood cat

Right, so there are fans of color out there who want to go to Wiscon but who currently don't have the resources. As I discussed yesterday on my personal LJ, I'm thinking about organizing a fundraiser to help them go—just to attend and be themselves as they would normally.

I had thought something like a DonorsChoose model, where potential attendees say, "I'd like to go and this is what I need" ($X, a couch, etc.), and then people pledged toward the needs of a given attendee or attendees, with no payment unless the attendee was fully funded (or contributed to a general fund to be distributed among the potential attendees as needed). This seemed, to me, a way to ensure as much money was raised as needed, but no more (since there'd be specific goals to pursue).

Several people have instead suggested a general help fund in response to private requests. This has the advantages of not requiring people to ask for assistance in public and of avoiding a popularity-contest problem. Moreover, if people let me know ahead of time what their needs were likely to be, then I could set that as a target for the fundraiser. On the other hand, I'm not comfortable with administering an ongoing fund all by my individual lonesome, so if there was money left over, something would have to be done with it.

So, what I'm thinking now for a plan is:

  • Fans of color who want to go to Wiscon would contact me privately, in a screened post, with what resources they will need and how to get in touch with them—preferably by a specific date, because—
  • After the given date, I will open up the fundraiser with an announced goal of the sum of the needs communicated to me privately.
  • Contributors would tell me whether they wanted any extra money to be returned to them, or to go to the Carl Brandon Society, or some other option. My goal for this year would be that we not have any money left over, however, and if we met our goal I might actually stop the fundraiser early. But if this seemed to work, we could talk then about having an organization administer it in the future.

Two questions for you all, then.

  1. Logistically and otherwise, does this sound like a good plan to you? Suggestions for improving it?
  2. Wiscon is May 22-25. I think we should have this completed by, let's say, Monday April 13, to give people time to make travel arrangements? Or is that too short? In which case I'd want to start fundraising by, say, Wednesday March 18—that's three and a half weeks. Does this sound at all reasonable for a timescale? If not, what dates would you suggest?

Let's hear it!

(Deleted comment)
7th-Mar-2009 01:59 am (UTC)
it can help people who might be embarrassed to ask for help in a public sphere, and at the same time avoids the problem of popular/highly visible people getting more offers of help than less popular/less visible people.

I agree.

I'd also contribute money, though I won't be going to Wiscon and so can't help logistically.
7th-Mar-2009 02:23 am (UTC)
Yes. I think, in fact, there should be a publically announced place for the spillover money to go, because that will in all likelihood encourage people to donate extra, knowing that if all needs have been met, the funds will still go to a good cause.
7th-Mar-2009 05:41 am (UTC)
7th-Mar-2009 01:33 am (UTC)
This sounds like a good plan to me since it protects the privacy of the potential attendees.

If it is not too much of a headache to administer, it might be possible to combine the approaches, calling for non-monetary volunteers for stuff like couch, ride to airport, etc.

Ideally I think extra money would roll over to next year and/or to the next con, but I understand that you do not want to personally be the Keeper of the Fund in perpetuity.
7th-Mar-2009 02:07 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'd definitely like to include non-monetary assistance, but I'm thinking people would have to let me tell the potential attendees and the offerers about each other, since what if it turns out that one has hated the other since 3rd grade, you know? I suppose as long as everyone's okay with that, it would be fine.

I'm really not comfortable with holding on to money that isn't going to be immediately given back out again. In that case, I feel like I'm just facilitating gifts between people; anything more than that and I start wondering what I need to do to protect myself, more than saying "here, appoint some trusted fans who can look at my records whenever they want to check up on me."
7th-Mar-2009 02:57 am (UTC)
I'm thinking people would have to let me tell the potential attendees and the offerers about each other, since what if it turns out that one has hated the other since 3rd grade, you know?

That makes sense. And you'd better ask them just to be sure, but I would imagine that would be fine. It's just teh whole Internets they don't necessarily want to tell.
7th-Mar-2009 05:43 am (UTC)
Contributors would tell me whether they wanted any extra money to be returned to them, or to go to the Carl Brandon Society, or some other option.

This is fine if you want to do the work, but I think it would also be fine to pick one or two non-profits for the money to go to and announce that any extra will go there. (Carl Brandon Society would be a really good one, I think.)

That would be assuming contributors don't mind that they would not get a tax deduction if you contributed the money directly, as opposed to their contributing it on their own.
7th-Mar-2009 05:48 am (UTC)
I think the timescale sounds reasonable, or maybe it should be a little shorter, even. The way I'm thinking, it will be benficial to publicize the fundraiser as widely as possible, and the longer the time period is, the more work it is to keep on publicizing it, and the more likely that people will intend to contribute and then forget. I could be wrong, though.
7th-Mar-2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
I probably will not be able to attend any conventions this year (I'm an americorps volunteer and money for travel is well... not there) but I'd be happy, more than happy, really, to give $25 or more to provide a scholarship for someone else to go.

since joining LJ last year, someone on my flist raised about a thousand dollars for homeless kids to have mp3 players. someone else on my flist raised over $3,000 (I am not even kidding) to provide these same homeless teenagers with bras, panties, underwear, and new clothes. (It started out as a "bra and underwear" campaign, but after so much money was raised, it became a "every kind of clothing" campaign.)

all of this to say, I find LJ to be a very generous community. I think if there were a reliable, fiscally responsible way for people like me, who cannot attend the con personally, but would give money so that others may go, I think LJ would show up and make it happen.

and I also think it could be a kind of rollover fund. (there are many cons, after all.)

I don't know what's best, but I want to help. thanks for starting this...

9th-Mar-2009 08:22 am (UTC)
I will donate at least a little. I'd just as soon not know to whom it goes. (This is what happens when you grow up being trained in Hillel's level of charity, where the next-to-highest level is where donor and recipient don't know each other. (The highest level is to teach someone a skill.)) Though of course donors and recipients of such things as rides and crash space do *need* to know each other's names.

I'm good with any excess going to the Carl Brandon Society, which seems much simpler than you trying to return excess money.
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