So You Want To Start A Fan Fund

By Mike Glyer: Whenever you think everything has already been invented, count on being surprised. Fan funds to bring across the seas people others only knew through their fanwriting got started seventy years ago and it turns out the idea has by no means been used up. TAFF, DUFF, and GUFF, organized to continually raise money to exchange fans between distant parts of the world, are a model for the latest effort announced a few months ago to add a European Fan Fund to the mix.

What does it take to create a fan fund to send a delegate from one area to another? Probably a good place to start is to identify hub convention in each area that can be the target for the person to attend. Then price out what the fund has to pay for in order to send someone to either con so you have a fundraising goal amount. Transportation, hotel room nights, meals, appropriate other thingies (whatever they might be).  Let’s say for the sake of discussion it’s $1,000.

Next question is — how can you generate $1000. That can be raised through: Direct donations. Auctions. Sales of donated stuff.

Direct donations requires the least amount of labor (people points).

Auctions — there are often TAFF/DUFF/David Gerrold/whatever else auctions at cons, so there are issues of finding a way to peacefully co-exist with these other efforts and at the same time avoiding giving fandom at large the impression of going to the same well too often. Those goals can probably be achieved, but they need to be thought about.

Sales of donated stuff — Running a fan table for purposes of publicizing the fan fund and selling donated stuff is time-intensive. What are ways of doing this collaboratively with fans who need to do the same thing for their causes. Which are compatible with raising money for this fan fund?

Sources of donated stuff can be individuals, and it’s likely you can tap into publishers (book, game, etc.) who want to publicize themselves by donating product. The risks of going to the well too often are not so great because the companies probably aren’t going to have a bad attitude, they will just say yes or no according to their own priorities and resources.

Fan fund publicity in general: The ever-popular press release sent out to likely suspects, and the use of social media, are pretty effective at getting the word out. These create an awareness of the fund’s existence, which is valuable, though the other in-person efforts described above are needed as follow-up to actually harvest money for the fund.

How will the fund be awarded? By vote or application to a directorate? It’s not always easy to find people who want to be fan fund candidates, and there’s also the question of whether the winner will be expected to administer the fund and assure it continues in existence.

Those are the broad strokes of the picture – your knowledge about fandom in your area will be needed to fill in the many other details involved.

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7 thoughts on “So You Want To Start A Fan Fund

  1. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a fan fund to send Hugo/Lodestar/Astounding finalists who can’t afford the trip to Worldcon. However, someone would have to administer the fund and I’m not really up for taking on extra work right now. Plus, there’d have to be a way to determine whether a finalist really can’t afford the trip. Because if we rely on an honour system, someone will abuse it sooner or later.

  2. @Andrew I. Porter: I made the same initial misreading (and had the same thought as Cora regarding ease).

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