Founders Friday: Fundraising
Welcome to the first installment of Founders Friday, a weekly blog by HavenCon Founder Shane Brown.
Each week I’ll be talking about various aspects of HavenCon and answering common (and some not-so-common) questions from the HavenCon community.
For the first Founders Friday I will be discussing a topic that comes up frequently: Fundraising. From our online fundraisers and beyond, we do a lot of fundraising to help make HavenCon happen, and so it’s important that our community knows why we do what we do and what we plan to do going forward. I’ll also talk about how the community can help HavenCon going forward to ensure we continue to have a succesful event(s) for years to come.
What’s up with all the Indiegogos?
Our Indiegogo campaigns are one of the most talked about subjects when it comes to making HavenCon happen because, really, they are the most visible of all of our fundraising endeavors.
Why Indiegogo? There is no easy answer to this as it has a lot of moving parts and pieces, so let me try to simplify it as best as possible.
When I started HavenCon, I was able to finance some of it myself, I pretty much sold off whatever I had, took what little savings were available and dove in to create a show. However, due to a turn in health at the time, I only planned to run HavenCon for 2 years tops. Simply put, I didn’t think I would be here to continue much beyond that, but I wanted to create something unique that I could then maybe pass on and hope (though, in my mind I wouldn’t know) that it succeeded long-term.
So really, I had no long-term plan. Fast forward awhile, and, surprise! I’m here to stay awhile longer. And not only that, but people LOVED HavenCon and wanted to see it continue.
Now, my goal was to never make money from HC, in fact, I still don’t. So each year we would “0 out”..meaning we left nothing for the following year and instead tried to give back as much to the community as we could via our charities or other endeavors (artists fundraisers, LGBTQ+ projects, and in some very unfortunate cases, disaster relief for Texas Flood Victims and Pulse).
All of this meant that it would be inevitable to have to do fundraising for the show specifically before officially having another show.
A lot of conventions rely on pre-registration, booth sales and other means to raise the funds needed, and we are no exception. The difference being that we don’t have the same attendance #s as other shows….yet. So we have to create a budget based on the #s we KNOW. That budget is a very tight budget with the bulk of our funds going to A. The host hotel and B. Guests. The rest we use for operational costs and when able some limited advertising (WE NEED MORE ADVERTISING!)…
Sometimes we take risks too…we may pay a little more for a guest in the hopes it draws a bigger crowd, or we may do something extra fancy in the hopes it makes attendees happy, etc. Some times it works, some times it doesn’t. But we try our best.
No matter what, the community is always priority 1 for us at HavenCon. We give back every opportunity we have even it means “oh boy, we have to do another fundraiser for the show”.
All of that said, the fundraisers do also provide a great level of exposure for the convention. In fact, it’s probably our #1 source! So, we treat it like a super early bird registration where people can get cheap tickets and other goodies while seeing exactly where those funds are going.
Sponsors, vendors, and others interested in supporting the show have a live view of what to expect before making a decision. That’s generally unheard of and is a level of transparency not seen *too* often with shows.
Going forward, we may be doing more of the online fundraisers because in reality, even though they are a headache for me personally, they provide a larger audience for us than say a small event at a local venue. That has not been decided yet.
However, pre-registration will always negate that need. If you pre-register and invite your friends to do the same, it helps tremendously.
Social media sharing is a great way to help us gain more followers and let people know we exist. Word of mouth is ALWAYS the best advertising and we love it when you invite your friends (and it helps so much towards not having to do more fundraisers!).
If you want to help us, share updates from our Facebook and Twitter pages inviting your friends and others to join you at HavenCon. Those sites will always have the most up-to-date information as well as here on the HavenCon website.
What has been decided moving forward is that we are moving to become a 501c3 non-profit and are in fact now registered as a Texas non-profit. It’s our hope that this takes some of the burden in terms of overall funding from individuals and the community (some donations will be tax-deductible!) and opens up a wide range of opportunities for HavenCon!
We now have a great core team of people who make up our board, and I can’t wait to introduce them all to you once everything is finalized. I’m also very excited to announce some of our future endeavors once those too are ready, we have some very exciting plans.
The next year is going to be a very busy and very exciting one for HavenCon and for myself. For all of you that have supported us this far, I cannot express my gratitude enough and I hope we make you proud to be a long-lasting supporter as we move forward together.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have other questions, please comment below and I’ll respond as best I can.
Have another topic you want to see addressed here? Comment below with that too!
Don’t have tickets to HavenCon 4 yet? Grab yours via the registration link to the left, and use code FounderFriday for a discount on your entire order!