Community Team Program Supporter Tasks

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Reviewing a budget, step-by-step: Getting Started and Expenses

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Managing the Money

Many events are able to use the WPCS system to process vendor payments and reimbursements, collect sponsor funds, and manage ticket sales. However, if they’re not in the US or Canada, they are not required to run the money through WPCS, and actually not recommended if it will result in the organizing team having trouble.

In non-US/Canadian countries where wire transfers to pay caterers and printers are uncommon, the local organizing team might find it easier to manage the money themselves. We can still process ticket revenue through WPCS and send that to the organizing team with their global sponsorship grant via wire transfer to an organizing team member.

If an organizing team is not running the money through WPCS, the team is expected to hold to a very high level of public, financial transparency and present a Transparency Report after the event.

It’s also good to know what kinds of payment processors are common in a country. If Paypal is not common or popular, then the local team can write a payment gateway plugin so they can still use Camptix (this is important to us, as we want ticket selling transparency and access to those metrics).

Once reviewed, we’ll activate that on the network. We’ve done that in multiple other countries, and it’s worked very well.

Event Details

Open the proposed budget, found in the WordCamp dashboard under Budget > Budget.

Look at the top box on this page to understand the size of the event, noting the number of attendees, days, tracks, speakers, and volunteers. Check these numbers for consistency. For example, a 2-day, 3-track event will probably have about 42 speakers (7 speakers per track, per day), and should include at least 8 volunteers (2 per session room and 2 for registration).

For the “per attendee” formula to work well in the Budget Tool it’s best to include speakers, volunteers, and sponsors in the Attendee figure. This is because you’ll want to calculate the lunch count and event swag count based on total individuals at the event.

If their numbers aren’t inline with the average mentioned above, suggest the organizer update the spreadsheet with more accurate information.

Number of Attendees

First WordCamp: Try to stay at or under 300, unless the community has been meeting with more than 30 people every month for 6 months AND they have an amazing inexpensive venue AND their team has conference/volunteer organizing experience.

Second/repeat camp: Check how many tickets sold last year. Doubling attendance from last year because you sold out is usually unsuccessful. We recommend teams try to increase 25% per year, not 50%.

Ticket Price

If in US: $25 per person per day is the maximum; generally understood that price includes lunch and a piece of custom swag. If not providing lunch or a t-shirt, preferred to reduce per day cost by about $5 if the budget allows.

If outside the US: use the Numbeo, Cost of Living website to assess ticket price, not a straight dollar-to-local currency conversion. The ticket price should be roughly the equivalent of a cheap dinner and a movie for one based on their location. In very expensive cities/countries, a ticket price on the more expensive scale can be offset by providing scholarship/student tickets. This works especially well in European countries.

Total Expense per Attendee

This is a quick check to see if the WordCamp budget is skewed to the high side. the event budget is usually lean and manageable if the expense per attendee is under:

  • $40/per person/per day for a one day camp.
  • $30/per person/per day for a 2+ day camp.

If the expense per attendee is double, then there should be some very good reasons to support that budget, as it’s out of scale with other camps worldwide.

Cultural/Regional/Community Variations:

All communities are different (just like all people are different), but very few WordPress communities are that different.

While cost of living and cultural expectations may vary, all WordPress communities should share the same open source culture, in which the community has leaders rather than owners, changes are iterative rather than drastic, and everyone works together for the common good.

While just paying someone to do XYZ might be easier on the lead organizer, recruiting volunteers to help do XYZ will help build community while keeping the budget lean. Sometimes repeat organizers prefer to take the “just pay someone” approach; it’s good to gently remind them that asking for more community help will help them identify new/future leaders in the group so they don’t have to do everything on their own, forever.

A good reminder is that WordCamp organizing is community organizing, not simply event organizing.

Reviewing Expenses

Next, you’ll move down the page to the Expense line items, noting the cost of the venue, food, swag, parties, etc.

We have a handbook page and a budget review checklist that can be a great help. Please use the checklist when you’re reviewing a budget; there’s a lot to cover and it’s easy to forget things. We won’t test you on the contents of the checklist. For now it’s enough to know it’s available.

In an effort to keep volunteers involved and our budgets lean, below are some items that are almost immediately rejected from most budgets.

Some things we never pay for:

  • design services
  • event organizing services
  • special perks or gifts just for the organizing team
  • special perks or gifts for vendors
  • bribes
  • emcees
  • photography

Some things we very, very rarely pay for:

  • advertising
  • speaker travel – only for commit-level core developers with a financial need
  • vehicle rental for event setup/breakdown
  • stock photos
  • membership fees
  • bank fees or taxes – for WordCamps not running the money through WPCS and that will have to pay taxes on the event expenses or income
  • door prizes

If you see these on a budget you’re reviewing, let the organizers know that it’s very unusual to pay for these things, and ask them how much they really need them. These expenses should be approved on a case-by-case basis by a Program Manager.