I don’t want your money.
Now that I have your attention… I’m going to address something that only a couple of people have spoken to me about directly, but I’ll assume is more widely-thought based on some pretty clear evidence.
Last month, I launched a crowd funding campaign to raise money for a number of Nerd Night expenses – past, current and future hopes and dreams types of things – and to put it bluntly, the response has been underwhelming. I know the people who attend our events are generous folks, I see evidence of that every month when I load up piles of donations into my car. I see it when people smile and look astonished at the huge pile of stuff I’m unloading in front of their nonprofit’s offices. I see it when people text me asking what they can bring, what’s needed. I see it all the time. So I was surprised at the lack of contributions to the campaign, a little sad and hurt even. It was disappointing.
A couple of friends came to me after the March event and wanted to talk about it, they said that people had been burned by nonprofits asking for cash, they didn’t see what we needed the money for, they wanted to dissect our monthly expenses. I think (I hope) I did a pretty good job of listening. They had some good points. I’m probably going to take a few of their suggestions.
See, I know I’m a control freak. I’ve had (and I’ve been pretty upfront about this) a hard time relinquishing control of ALL THE THINGS to people who are willing to help. And that’s hard, because I need the help, so I have to let them in. I’m trying! Like I said, I see my failing here. But you need to understand:
Everything that’s been bought for San Antonio Nerd Night thus far (with one exception) has come entirely out of my personal bank account. Monthly postcard printing, the banner that hangs at our events, our web hosting, the Meetup group, social media promotion boosts, fees to file forms, the shirts people wear with the logo on it, gas to drive donations where they need to go, door prizes… It comes out to quite a bit of money. It’s money that’s just gone; most of it can’t be reimbursed, it was before we incorporated. I don’t begrudge any of it; I wouldn’t have started the group if it bothered me at all. It’s just not sustainable as we move forward.
Beyond that, now that we are a nonprofit, with a board of directors with different ideas about how we’d like to grow? They all bring amazing things to the table. I wouldn’t have asked them to help me if I didn’t adore their brains. But they all have ideas! So many wonderful, exciting, interesting ideas. And all of those ideas need THINGS. Now, I know we can’t do everything at once. We’re trying to grow in a measured way. But when something comes up that’s completely doable, if we just had a little capital, and we have to turn it down because there is $90 in the bank account, that’s very frustrating. None of us have the money to just write a check.
“But wait,” you’re saying right now. “I thought she said she DIDN’T want our money?”
I don’t. I wish I could keep paying for it all forever. But I can’t. In order for Nerd Night to become what I’ve imagined, what the board envisions, a charity organization with the ability to really make a difference in San Antonio, we need more than what I can personally fund. However, I respect what I’m hearing from those of you who maybe can’t trust where the money will end up. So, here’s a small breakdown.
- We need $400 to file our 501(c)(3) paperwork, which is required to get tax-exempt status on everything we purchase for the group, from printing to t-shirts to games for the game library. This would save us a lot of money.
- Approximately $420/year in web hosting and Meetup fees.
- Approximately $40/month in promotional printing (postcards, signage, etc) for a total of $480/year. I get a very good deal on this, because I work for a printer.
This comes out to a total of $1300. I requested $2000 in the crowd funding campaign because I wanted a small cushion in the account for fronting projects that come up unexpectedly – things like economical t-shirt printing, or fees to participate in events like the King William Fair (or Fiesta in general) – we were invited to participate in that this year but have had to turn it down due to not being able to pay the booth fees – or a Nerd Night game library so that we’re not relying on my and other people’s personal game collections at our events. We have miscellaneous things that come up from time to time, like any organization. A binder to keep our meeting minutes in, or making copies of the bylaws before our initial board meeting so everyone could read them ahead of the vote, a fee to the state of Texas to do a search on our desired corporate name before filing our certificate of incorporation – you know, just expenses that any group trying to stay organized and follow the rules and put on great events might have.
This has gotten really long, and if the tone is different from my usual blog posts, I apologize. I’m frankly a little down about the money stuff. I love this group of people. And I look at San Antonio Nerd Night as more than just a gaming group. In fact, I don’t even think of it primarily as a gaming group – it’s a charity organization that happens to game. And as such there’s a certain amount of sacrifice I’m prepared to make personally. None of this money is for ME. It’s going into the SANN bank account. The crowd funding is set up as a “personal” fundraiser because we aren’t 501(c)(3) yet so I CAN’T set it up any other way.
If any of you have any questions about this and want to discuss it, please feel free to reach out to me or to any of the other board members. I’m going to be putting their contact information up on the website shortly. I don’t want to ask for your money over and over, I don’t want to ask for it at all. I’m hoping that with a little bit of seed money, we can make whatever money we might need to be self-sustaining. Please consider contributing.