We had a complete chart of accounts for CCXV. The accounts that do not appear in the budget are:
- 102: Our Checking Account
- 103: Our Savings Account
- 201: Advances (the single most confusing account in the entire system)
- 301: Retained Earnings
All of these accounts were kept in a program called Peachtree First Accounting. Deposits were split between appropriate account numbers, as were withdrawals. This gave us a fairly simple method for tracking exactly where money was being received, and where money was being spent. Even if you don’t have a computer, it is really important to keep accurate records of where the money is coming from, and where it goes; you can use our chart as a guideline for creating your own, or come up with your own method. Or you can download a copy of the Microsoft Excel 97 & 5.0/95 Workbook we used. Whatever you do, choose your accounting set-up early and stick to it.
Note that the account numbers are slightly out of order; our first attempt at setting up the Chart of Accounts was inaccurate, and the order was unfortunately preserved through transfer into the Peachtree accounting package. The rough breakdown should have been as follows:
- 101-199 Actual Bank Accounts
- 201-299 Retained Earnings
- 301-399 Advances
- 401-499 Membership Income
- 501-599 All Other Income
- 601-699 Membership-Specific Expenses
- 701-799 Event-Specific Expenses
- 801-899 Venue-Specific Expenses
- 901-999 Operations & Overhead Expenses
Generally, this is how the budget was laid out, but there were some items that were established as revenue and were later moved to expenses. There are also a number of line items that should have been eliminated entirely from both revenue and expenses. These items are addressed below.
Missing accounts included: Petty Cash (should have been under 202; wound up in Advances); Doll Contest (should have been under 510; we actually took in $10 from a non-conference member); Long Distance Phone Calls at con and prior to (should have been under 906; we had a huge snafu concerning hotel reservations and the con was charged these expenses by the committee members who incurred them). Final checks to other CCs (closing the account) wound up under 951.
This document, and the associated tables, are now the final budget numbers. The last three checks were cut in January, 1999, 20 months after the end of our conference, and our bank account should be closed by the end of January.
The budget is broken into several sections, to make it easier for downloading and interpreting. These sections are: Budget – Revenue, Budget – Expenses, Actual Receipts (per year) and Membership Breakdown.
Most of these items are self-explanatory, but we’ll define them here.
401 Pre-Supporting Memberships: These “memberships” were set at $6.00, and guaranteed nothing; they provided CCXV with seed money and covered initial publicity, but did not apply to actual membership in any way. Final amount received: $84.00.
402 Individual Memberships: A word of caution about this item. We had a big committee arguement regarding whether to advertise the whole fee structure in advance of the con. Previous cons had posted their rate increases, up to but not including the At Door rate and One-Day memberships (if available). The decision was made to advertise only the current rate, and indicate that there would be an increase of some sort at a given date. This was a bad decision. We should have set the rates at the beginning, with the exception of the At Door and One-Days. Rates should also have stepped at a $10 range. A loss of some notes, and an ad hoc decision by our former Co-Chair and Treasurer set the next rate at $50, and we chose to maintain that rate instead of issuing new flyers with a corrected amount. This was a mistake, and cost us $510 at the $50 rate, and $435 at the $60 rate. As a result, the jump of $15 to $75 at the end seemed to be motivated by greed. In fact, the rate was set in an attempt to recover our losses. Our rates should have been: $45, $55, $65 and $75 respectively. Final amount received: $16,120.00.
403 Dealer Memberships: Dealer tables cost $100, including one Attending membership. Additional memberships were made available (without publications) at $40. One dealer chose not to receive pubs for the second table, and was charged $75. A second dealer asked for a Supporting membership to be moved over to cover the cost of the assistant. The Supporting member later contacted the con expecting to receive publications. The assistant’s membership was adjusted to $15 to cover the discrepancy. An additional dealer was unable to attend the con, but wanted pubs. Her table was sold at a 50% reduced rate, and she retained the membership so she could receive pubs. Her assistant’s membership was refunded in full. Final amount received: $3,000.00.
404 Dealer/Sponsors: We attempted to interest dealers in a room of their own, at a rate of $250, which would include a full-page ad in PRs and Program Book and two Attending memberships. This came off as sounding to the dealers like no deal at all, since for only $50 more they were being exiled to a separate room. Don’t try this again, unless you can come up with a much more attractive package! Final amount received: $0.00.
405 Bid/Future CC Sponsors: We sold three Con-Suite sponsorships at $250 each, which was intended to cover the costs of the Suite at peak use. The sponsorship included a full-page ad for each sponsor. Sponsors were expected to assist the Con-Suite coordinator in refreshing the food. The sponsorship included one special item (cake or other) at the sponsor’s discretion. Final amount received: $750.00.
501 Donations/Corporate Sponsors: Most sponsors provided gifts, not money. We received cash donations from the CC9 and CC14 committees (and we thank them both!), and from a few of the Con Com. Final amount received: $1,103.00.
502 One (1) Day Memberships: Unfortunately, the way the income was recorded, the One-Day Memberships were incorporated into the full Membership figure above. The actual number of registrants for One-Day Memberships was 16 (two of which purchased the publications at an additional $25 each) Final amount received: $450.00 (actually listed as part of the Membership figure above).
503 Event Donations: These were suggested donations from people who wished to see our Masquerades or Fashion Show, but did not want to pay for a membership. Why donations, not tickets? Requiring an entrance fee would have thrown the stage events into “entertainment” and would have been taxable income as a result. This is a no-no for a tax-exempt organization. Final amount received: $90.00.
504 Raffle Income: Not nearly enough tickets were sold to justify the drawing. Either we should have had more active participation in sales (not enough committee members were involved), or we should have had a better giveaway (antique treadle sewing machine in original cabinet). Final amount received: $132.00.
505 Interest Income: Note that for only the last two years or so of the Con Com’s existence, the balance of our incoming funds was stored in an interest bearing savings account, and was moved when checks were written. We should have had the money socked away in the interest-bearing account from the beginning. Final amount received: $148.63.
507 Videotape Sales: Initially, we thought we would produce two tapes. We never expected to have so many entries in the Science Fiction/Fantasy Masquerade, and we realized that we would need one tape just for this event. We settled on three tapes (SF/F Masquerade, Historical, and Future Fashion Show/Single Pattern Contest, plus excerpts from the Friday Night Social and Saturday Afternoon Social.) The price of the tapes was set at $20 each, any 2 for $30 and any three for $40. The vast majority of orders was for the three-tape set. Note that the conference handled the sales and shipping, not the Live Video producers. This was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we controlled the income; on the other, we were shipping tape sets long after the con was over. Final amount received: $2,150.00.
508 Whole Costumer’s Catalogue Sales: A decision was made by me at the conclusion of the conference, and before we had a firm headcount of the people who had not received WCC’s, that we would take the leftovers back with us at an unbudgeted amount of over $500.00. Through some hard and creative selling, we managed to unload all but the last 20 copies of the edition (#13) before it became obsolete. The income generated helped cover the additional cost to CCXV. This is a potential pitfall – be sure you have a firm headcount before accepting additional copies of the book, as you may be selling them for months after the con. Final amount received: $348.00.
509 Lady Sally’s Flea Market Sales: During the Friday Night Social, we offered space to sell “flea market” style items, at a cost of $10 per table. Six tables were sold, hence the income. Final amount received: $60.00.
421 Comp Memberships/Gift: These were not recorded in the system properly. The plan was to give away ten comp memberships at regional cons during the last year before CCXV. These memberships should have cost $25 each. We actually received seven comp registrations. Two additional comps represented one refunded membership (Treasurer’s error), and one was refunded (personal disaster). Final amount spent: $0.00.
422 Comp Memberships/Staff: This was a misleading account number. All Staff memberships were set at $45, and staff was expected to pay the full amount; several staff members paid by in-kind trade, or by declining to take the Whole Costumer’s Catalogue. This line item should not have existed. Final amount spent: $0.00.
423 Comp Memberships/Press: We decided not to give the press memberships after the item was assigned a number. The original logic was that we would cover the cost of materials under this line item. This never happened. Final amount spent: $0.00.
601 Progress Reports: This item was kept low by using a copier at an office, as opposed to a copy service. The costs were primarily for the cover stock paper, secondarily for printing supplies. Final amount spent: $245.97.
602 Fashion Folio: This was printed by Beach Brothers Printing (as was the Program Book). We paid for a total of 350, and had barely enough to cover the pre-registered plus some of the at-door members. Fortunately, there were quite a few members who were not expecting publications (66 members – Volunteer, One Day and Child – did not receive publications at all). Final amount spent: $776.46.
603 Program Book: We ordered 400 of these, and wound up with approximately 425 total. The statement concerning publications under Fashion Folio also applies here. We still have approximately 20 program books on file. The cost was lessened by the fact that we had nothing at all printed in the inside of the front/back covers. The set-up charges would have added at least another $500 to our cost had we planned for printing on the inside front cover. Final amount spent: $1,374.00.
604 Pocket Program: The cost for this was primarily for the paper (400 copies at 3 pages back-front, plus an additional 100 copies at a copy center). We invested in a case of paper just prior to the conference, and used our supplies to make the on-site copies whenever possible. We also offered a Resource Guide, an addendum sheet for the Program Book, and miscellaneous other paperwork, which was copied using our supplies and a copy center. Final amount spent: $0.00.
606 Whole Costumer’s Catalogue: We requested (and paid in advance for) an initial 350 copies of the WCC. These books were delivered just prior to the con and were handed out to everyone at the conference, with the exception of some staff members, all dealer assistants, children, One-Day members and non-paid volunteers. The books were sold to us at a rate of $7.00 each (just a little below half cover-price). We made an additional at-con order of 72, and sent back $7.50 to cover the income from one sale at-con before we were told to keep the income on remaining sales. Subsequently, we have sold all but about 15 copies (some at a discount, plus shipping and handling of $1.75 when applicable). Final amount spent: $2,961.50.
607 Post Con Mailing/Video/WCC Pks: This was a completely unbudgeted expense, as you will see when you look at the line item in the budget. It never occurred to us to budget a separate amount for shipping the post-con mailings to Attending members who didn’t show, as well as the Supporting members. We tracked the cost separately from general postage. [I would suggest in future that the postage be tracked for its specific use: information mailings, PR mailings, Post-con mailings, Dealer mailings, and General mailing – I couldn’t give you an exact total cost for mailing the Folio, PRs, or other items because the postage wasn’t broken down this way at the outset. – Betsy) Final amount spent: $566.39.
701 Hotel: In previous releases of the budget, this figure was much higher than it is now. That is because there were several items covered by the checks written to the hotel. These items included an electric hook-up at a cost of over $1,900 (now listed under 801 Tech Equipment), tea service (now listed under 803 Half-time Cookie/Tea service), Con-Suite Corkage Fee (now listed under 702 Con Suite Corkage) and sodas for the Friday Night Social (now listed under 705 Socials). I will go into detail about these charges momentarily. Final amount spent: $2,250.00.
Concerning the hotel bill itself: We negotiated with Hotel management under the initial contract to receive a $3 credit for each room night if we made our room block. We made our block, and then some, which lead to a major reservation snafu. Approximately twenty legitimate reservations were not initially honored by the hotel; notification of this problem was not made to our hotel liaison – we only discovered the problem because one of our members contacted us to find out why no confirmation number had been received. This mess occurred two weeks prior to the conference. We scrambled to find alternate accommodations, only to discover several city-wide conventions. It took a letter from our hotel liaison and a letter from a lawyer to rectify the situation. As a result, all but two reservations were honored by the hotel, and those two were left elsewhere by the members’ preference. The lesson in this: watch the hotel reservations like a hawk, and make sure you receive accurate reports from the hotel staff concerning room nights reserved.
702 Con Suite Corkage: In our initial contract, we specified a corkage fee of $150 total. The hotel insisted on charging us this fee per day, at a potential cost of $600. We refused the bill on two of the four days. The final charge for Corkage (bringing in outside food and drink) was allowed to stand at $300. In resolving the hotel bill, part of the room night credit was applied to this amount, bringing the final cost down to $150. Final amount spent: $150.00.
703 Con Suite Food/Beverage: This cost included snacks, soda, coffee, tea, decaf, and the special Sponsor items for each major night of the Con Suite’s operation. Sponsorships were sold for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. We kept the Con Suite open an additional night (Monday) for the Dead Dog party, and paid an additional amount for coffee/tea service from the hotel. Final amount spent: $941.23.
705 Socials: Here’s where things start getting messy. We covered expenses on two socials: Callahan’s Cross-Stitch Saloon and Murder on the Ornament Express. Our expected outlay: $300.00. Through some pretty unfortunate and annoying miscommunications, we wound up without the expected cash bar on Friday night. To provide our guests with some form of beverage other than water, we requested canned sodas (200 at $2 apiece plus a 19% service charge and $24 in taxes, topping out at almost $500!) which were doled out by a team of volunteers we had initially planned on having at the party simply for local color. This error in planning was one of four very expensive mistakes we made in the planning process, but was not the largest. Final amount spent: $748.15.
706 Film and Video Programming: This was almost a good idea. The original purpose: to provide a room where costumers could sit, work on projects, and watch costume epics, old masquerades from previous cons, and generally socialize. The reality: Throughout the weekend we never saw more than 10 people in the room during the films. We also ran into a licensing and availability problem. It seems that we were unable to use the blanket license offered by Balticon, because the room we were using to show the films was actually a theater, and the license stipulated that this was a no-no. Had we used any other room in the hotel, we would have been able to show videos from private collections. This was the third most expensive error in planning. Final amount spent: $662.50.
707 Programming Supplies: Supplies consisted specifically of bags to be given to the Program participants by way of a thank you for participating, since we couldn’t afford to comp their memberships. The bags were well received, and we used almost all of the extras as gift bags for the awards at the masquerades. We also gave participants notepads, which we got as a gift from our printing coordinator. Final amount spent: $418.91.
801 Tech Equipment: The single biggest miscommunication between the hotel and the conference committee; the hotel tacked on a charge of $1,185 for electrical service that clearly wasn’t specified when we signed our contract, and because of an oversight at the meeting just prior to the conference, the mention in the final agreement went unnoticed. We appealed the cost to no avail. Watch out for hidden costs like these! Final amount spent: $3,880.91.
802 Green Room: We provided snacks, beef sausage, cheese platters, fruit, and finger foods, as well as high exertion drinks (gatorade type liquid). The Green Room was staffed by the same coordinator for all three stage events, and this provided lots of continuity in planning. We recommend this method of staffing for this position on the committee. Thanks to some excellent planning on the part of the Green Room coordinator, this item came in under budget. Final amount spent: $319.55.
803 Half-time Cookies/Tea Service: This was another nightmare in planning. The Science Fiction/Fantasy masquerade ran well past 11pm, such was the size of the competition (over 40 separate costume entries). As a result, the hotel staff, who had been instructed to deliver coffee and tea set-up, were already tearing it down when we finally reached half-time. The hotel would not provide a refresher. The cost to the committee: $309.24. On Sunday, during the Historical masquerade, the coffee service was available at a more reasonable time, and was actually used, but during half-time the Future Fashion Show/Single Pattern Contest and Science Fiction/Fantasy masquerade tapes were aired, meaning that the planned socializing time was not available as planned. This was the second biggest error in planning.[I personally would recommend against spending conference money on providing this sort of entertainment again. It is overly expensive and under-utilized! – Betsy] Final amount spent: $798.48.
804 Masque Registration Supplies/Copies: This item fell well within budget, thanks to having a copier onsite and available in the con’s Ops office. Having a dedicated copier on hand is really worth any possible expense. Final amount spent: $13.00.
805 Awards/Certificates: This figure was flexible, and was based on a guess as to the number of competition participants versus registrants. Remarkably, we had a few leftover certificates, but not many. As for the Best in Show plaques, we cut a deal with the manufacturer in exchange for an ad in our program book, and sponsorship announcements at the masquerades. When the announcement was not forthcoming on Sunday, we arranged a deal by which the Best in Show winners received individual plaques at a cost to the con of $5.00 each or $30 total. We also had provided to us several gifts courtesy of some sponsors, which we awarded as prizes to the Best in Class winners in both masquerades and the Single Pattern Contest. These sponsors have since been announced on the Costume-Con Fifteen website. Final amount spent: $133.89.
806 Live Video: This was made up of several items. First, we covered the cost of the master tapes (for which we had to buy additional tapes), as we realized we wouldn’t have enough to cover the Historical and Fashion Show/Single Pattern Competition – the size of the Science Fiction/Fantasy masquerade really caught us by surprise. Second, we covered the cost of FedExing the masters from the director to the editor – a cost we should not have paid in hindsight. Third, we covered the cost of editing, which was a little over $425. Fourth, we paid for 150 tapes at $5 each. These costs were more than covered by the income generated from the sale of the videos, but the sales should have generated much more income than they did. Again, watch for these hidden costs, or better yet, make the Live Video director handle all costs and proceeds. We also gave one complete set of videos to two Attending members who were unable to attend the conference due to personal illness. Final amount spent: $1,633.88.
807 Ribbons: This item covered both award ribbons and committee ribbons, and fell within expectations. We ordered way too many volunteer ribbons, and way too many Best in Show ribbons. Final amount spent: $576.30.
808 Judges’ Food (Historical Masquerade): This was budgeted for early on, as it has become fact that the Historical Judges don’t really have time to themselves during the pre-judging process. This isn’t an issue with the other competitions, as the judging period is generally much shorter. Final amount spent: $56.00.
809 Official Photo: We covered the cost of the onsite developing and a complete set of photos as a gift to two Attending members who were unable to make it to the conference due to personal illness. [Note as far as I know, this is the first time such a gift has been made by a CC committee. I hope that the trend will continue as it has with CC16. — Betsy] Final amount spent: $166.70.
901 Pre-Con Bid Promo/Tape: When the committee initially formed, we remembered that the bid process was important without remembering why the voting was so important. By then, the Site Selection procedure established for CC11 had been forgotten by the ICG, and after an initial showing by a competing bid, we wound up being the only bid when the vote came. This expense could have been avoided for the most part, though it would have covered the bid flyer costs. In hindsight, we should not have wasted the money on the tape and package. The end did not justify the means. Final amount spent: $255.81.
902 Party Sponsorships: We sponsored four parties: at CC12 (co-sponsored with the Beyond Reality Costumers’ Guild and Bucconeer), CC14 and World Con’s Costumer Suite, and Balticon after the Masquerade (in conjunction with our sponsoring ICG chapter, the GCFCG, Inc.) The CC sponsorships both included a full page ad for the Program Book. Final amount spent: $625.27.
903 Flyers: The primary expense for flyers was for the case of paper we purchased to use on freebie tables at cons, and to send to people who inquired about the con. This figure was fixed once we stopped sending out flyers. The initial per copy cost was negligible – copies were (for the most part) made on an office copier, and not at a copy center, which saved us a considerable amount of money in the long run. Final amount spent: $200.05.
904 Paid Ads/Publicity: We purchased ads in regional convention program books, and placed paid ads in the CC12 PR3, Balticon 1996, Darkover 1996, and Fandata (the Fandom Directory). Remaining ads were either gifts or in-kind trade with conventions. Postage and supply costs for publicity mailings were also covered under this line item, and came to a little short of $100. The budget was frozen at a point before the reimbursement request was received for the publicity mailings. Final amount spent: $303.05.
905 Postage: Having maintained the Post-con mailing separately, this line item came in under budget. If the shipping and handling costs are added into this item, we were actually approximately $400 over budget on postage costs. As stated above, this surprise postage can be avoided by breaking up the kinds of postage into separate categories, possibly under 920-929. Final amount spent: $1,103.01.
911 Ops/Office Supplies: We came in way under budget, thanks to donations from committee members. Quite a number of supplies were provided, including one staff member’s personal copier (which broke down several times, but was infinitely cheaper than renting). If you have someone on your committee who has a personal copier, make arrangements early on to use it. Alternately, research the companies and costs for rental early, and include this cost in your office overhead. You won’t be sorry!
One additional note: Any leftover supplies that were paid for with CC funds have been collected and passed on to CC17 through CC16. The Floating Costume-Con Office Supply Bin is a legacy we hope will continue to pass through committees, so that redundancies won’t happen. We ultimately need three extra long staplers for creating Progress Reports (if the committee actually produces them). Ours has been given to CC18, and we hope that CC18 will pass it on to CC21 once the con is selected. Final amount spent: $383.44.
912 Registration: Again, thanks to some personal donations on the part of the Registrar, this item came in well under budget. Primary costs were for badge stock, labels for mailings, and postage to ship labels to the person who mailed out the pubs. Some small amount of toner was also reimbursed under this line item. One note about Registration that is only somewhat related: On any flyer you provide to your potential members, be sure to include the following in a “For Office Use Only” box: Received by, Payment Method, Check Number, Amount, Date Received. These items are essential for tracking the payments received and should be included on every flyer you send out! Final amount spent: $141.00.
913 Exhibits: The primary cost for this line item was in shipping the display items back to their owners. We declined one exhibit offer because the shipping expenses would have topped out at $1,000, an expense we could not justify given our income to date when the decision was made. (The items were to be shipped from Japan, and the designer waited too long to take advantage of cheaper methods of shipping.) The decision cost us two Attending memberships ($120), but it was the right decision to make. We would not have been able to cover the cost. Final amount spent: $196.14.
914 Pager Rental: This line item was not used. It was intended to be a method for tracking down the key committee members, and proved unnecessary as all of them already had pagers of their own. We suggest dropping this line item entirely. Final amount spent: $0.00.
915 Raffle Supplies: This item may never be closed, as we have never received a request for reimbursement for the cost of the raffle ticket stock. We would suggest that if you choose to run your own raffle, you find an item that would be of interest to costumers and other people, and insist that the committee join in as salespeople, or do not run the raffle at all. Final amount spent: $0.00.
916 Conference Insurance: This item covered catastrophic loss, injury, or other liability. The policy included $1,000,000 General Liability, and thankfully was not needed. (The only semi-serious accident the entire weekend was suffered by the Con Chair, who was not about to charge the con for her own klutziness.) We had one unfortunate delivery for a dealer, but the hotel and UPS sorted out the issue, and we were not part of the settlement. Our agent: Harry Cohen Insurance Agency, Inc., 2209 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21218-5677; Phone: 410-366-3030, Fax: 410-366-3755. For the record, we were listed as: The Greater Columbia Fantasy Costumers’ Guild, Inc., d.b.a. Costume Con Fifteen. Final amount spent: $1,000.00.
931 Bank Service Charges: These charges were assessed by our first bank, and were not reversed. We caught on and moved our accounts. The new bank also attempted to charge us a service fee, but this fee was minor for the most part. We are incurring an additional fee to research a deposit that was not properly recorded in our books, but this expense will be paid for by our former Treasurer. Final amount spent: $37.65.
941 Misc Expenses (Please Describe): The Petty Cash was paid out from this account, as it was returned to Misc Expenses. Ideally, there should not be anything listed in this item at all. If you find you have made either a deposit or a withdrawal from the a Misc account, check to see if there isn’t a better place to put the money, or create a new line item to cover it.
951 Future CC Conferences: This line item was added in January, 1999, to deal with the final payments (three checks to Costume-Cons 17, 18 and 19) to bring our bank account to a zero balance. This item cleared any positive balance we had, and allowed us to finally close our account. This amount represents the pure profit left over from the con, after all bills were paid and all memberships refunded. Final amount spent: $1,013.17.
In summary, the con did well by making $1,013 (as of this date); on the down side, more attention to planning and better communication on the parts of the committee members could have netted us substantially more than that, which could have been passed on to future CCs.
The key members in your committee are: Chair, Treasurer, Hotel Liaison, Publicity and Advertising (separate functions that can be handled by one person), and Operations. You must have rock-solid, committed people in these positions. The commitment to a CC is not over at the end of the conference. Plan on being involved in the process from about one year prior to your bid, to as much as one year after the con has ended: a potential total of 5.5 years. Planning and communication are the keys to a successful con. By establishing procedures (and sticking to them) you provide the glue that holds the organization together.
- CCXV Budget – Account Summary
- CCXV Budget – Revenue
- CCXV Budget – Expenses
- CCXV Budget – Actual Revenue/Expenses (Per Year)
- CCXV Budget – Membership Breakdown
- CCXVBDGT.xls – Microsoft Excel 97 & 5.0/95 Budget Workbook