WordCamp New York City 2009

November 14–15, 2009
...was awesome!

Show Me the Money!

WordCamps take a lot of effort to produce, and NYC was no exception. With 8 content tracks, around 60 speakers and over 700 attendees, I think everyone who came was aware of how big an effort it was to produce WordCamp NYC. We were pretty happy with the event, though there are always things you learn along the way that you think, “I’ll do that different next time.” One of these things is planning around money.

Next time? Earlier deadline for sponsor payment delivery. Why? This year, one major sponsor payment came too late for us to cash their check and use for the event, and the largest sponsor payment actually arrived after the event. Add that to the way PayPal froze a sizable chunk of our account to cover possible refund requests for 30 days, and there were tens of thousands of dollars that we’d intended to spend that we didn’t have. It all worked out fine, of course, and we were able to cover our basic expenses, but we did cut things due to fear of not having the cash.

So then what? PayPal unfroze, those sponsor payments cleared, and come December, we had those tens of thousands of dollars at our disposal. It would have been nice to hang on to the money for next year’s event, but for tax reasons we needed to get rid of the money before the end of the year.

We were very grateful to Baruch College, and specifically the Bernard I. Schwartz Communications Institute, for hosting the event, and for picking up costs like security and janitorial service when we were short of funds. To say thank you, we donated $5,000 to Baruch, earmarked for the Institute. Thanks again, Baruch!

For the rest of the money, we thought it would be good if we could help fund other WordCamps, but then it seemed like it might be weird… what would make one WordCamp more worthy than another? And would there be an IRS-approved paper trail? Since I knew the WordPress Foundation was very close to being born, we worked with Matt Mullenweg to determine if the Foundation might be a good place to donate our surplus. We thought maybe then the Foundation could use it to make grants to WordCamps that came up short of cash, or act as a guarantor if promised sponsor funds hadn’t arrived in time. I don’t know if that will happen, or if we’ll go with something more specific toward the Foundation’s mission of education, but there are lots of ideas being considered. One promising idea is to sponsor video streaming/recording of WordCamp sessions, one the things we weren’t able to do because we didn’t have the money to pay for it.

You might be thinking, “Sure, Jane, that sounds great, but let’s face it, how many things can you fund with a few thousand bucks?” Well, you’re right, a couple thousand bucks doesn’t go very far in this economy. But almost thirty thousand dollars does.

Ha! That’s right, WordCamp NYC donated $28,069.25 to the WordPress Foundation with the request that the funds be used to expand the reach of WordCamps worldwide. That’s right:


You already knew WordCamp NYC was awesome, but you just fell in love with it a little bit more, didn’t you? (You can admit it. We won’t laugh.)

So, to sum up: Thanks to all our sponsors, volunteers and attendees for making WordCamp NYC a fantastic weekend in November. And thanks to the circumstances in the universe that seemed like bad luck at the time, but have enabled us to make even more of an impact in the larger WordPress/WordCamp community. And now, WordPress Foundation, go spend our money and make us proud!

11 Responses

  1. Andrea_R says:

    Group hugs! 😀

  2. Shane says:

    /me gives you all High Fives! w00t.

  3. Group hugs indeed. Great news; a wonderful postscript to a wonderful event.

  4. Mal Milligan says:

    Congrats to all who worked hard to put this together… many contributed their time and funds. New York is always a great place to “Go Large”.

  5. On behalf of Baruch College and the Schwartz Communication Institute, thank you so much for the generous donation and for being such great guests. It was a wonderful event and we are thrilled everything fell into place as smoothly as it did.

  6. […] (co-organizers of WordCamp NYC 2009) decided to donate our budget surplus to the foundation for the reasons we stated. I do not know of anyone else to have donated any money, nor would I suggest to anyone that they […]

  7. Wow – your team ceaselessly amazes and impresses. You’re all so consistently spot-on, right-headed and giving. And giving and giving.

    I hope and expect it all continues going so well for you and for us because of you.

  8. […] course, the biggest news to come out of Boston was the launch of the WordPress Foundation and WordCamp New York donating almost $30,000.00 to seed the foundation. I’m looking forward to see how the foundation […]

  9. BandonRandon says:

    Well played! I’m excited to see the WordPress Foundation kick off and what a way for them to start.

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