So You're Thinking About Hosting a Con...

How to Put on a Beauty and the Beast Convention

updated 2019.1.30

Budget, Fundraising, Pre-Con Organization

Calculate Your Budget

You’ll know the majority of your budget needs once you sign your hotel contract (make sure you consider taxes, service charges and other fees on top of your catering). You should also add in funding needs for decorations, equipment/stage rental, buying/printing tote bags, materials used by artists to create centerpieces and name tags, guests (if applicable), printing of the conzine (if applicable), creation of a tee shirt template (if applicable).
Once you figure out your outlays, estimate how much you might raise from fundraising, sales of merchandise, etc. Asking previous con chairs how many tees they sold and at what price and such will help you make your estimates as realistic as possible. Silent Auction and Orphan Table sales will be wild cards, too dependent upon serendipity to really build into your estimates unless you want to lowball an estimate.

This will give you a very rough guess of your exposure and income.

Now look at previous con attendance in the recent past and take into account such things as guests, location, etc. Give yourself a reasonable but not too optimistic number of attendees. Divide that number into your expected expenses. Be prepared for a shock! Back away slowly from the table. Get your breath going again and play with the numbers, figure them every which way… and then come up with a registration fee you feel will cover most of your costs, if not all, while still being affordable for many fans.

Try to keep your budget in mind when planning things. You may be tempted to splurge on something. Keep in mind you may end up eating the cost of your splurge. You do want to have some money left over for the charity, over and above what you raise in the charity auction. This is where fundraising and merchandise sales really help you.

Being cheap can be a virtue in some circumstances. The folks Below would surely agree! This is one of them, because being cheap means you will raise more funds for your chosen charity. For instance, if you want to have candies on the tables, consider after-Valentine’s Day sales, when heart-shaped candies are usually to be found at half price, and will still be fresh for eating in July!

Download this sample budget from J'Ecris if you like. You can enter your anticipated expenses and then play with the numbers of attendees and see how your registration cost comes out.

green money bag with a big dollar sign on it

How to Raise Funds

Solicit donations for the con and/or charity via online forums. Sell some of your goodies on EBay. Consider merchandise such as tee shirts with the con logo on it, or other items fans might purchase which cost relatively little to produce but which you can market for a reasonable price and make some money on each sale. You probably will not be able to charge enough for registration to cover all your expenses, so you need to consider other ways to make money.

At the convention, consider putting a piggy bank or a basket by the dealers table sales person with a sign on it suggesting fans put their change in for the charity. This is an easy way to raise extra money for the charity.

Pre-con Organization

You will find it useful to keep all your paperwork in one place, such as a large three-ring binder. Put tabs in for registrations, orders for merchandise, your final hotel contract, a print-out of con registrants with address, e-mail, and phone info, sign-ups for add-on activities, and any other materials you need to have handy, such as bus contracts and ticket arrangements with museums, etc., for add-ons, plus the names and numbers of contact people for add-on arrangements, if not on the contracts.

This binder may become useful to your con team should something happen and they need to take over for some or all of the convention activities. We have, unfortunately, had to depend on such binders of information (or wish we had them!) on occasion. Remember: You will have the vacations of scores of people in your hands, so anything you can do to ensure that everything is as organized as possible will not only benefit you, but ensure the smooth running of the convention in case of an emergency.

Opening a checking and Paypal account SEPARATE from your own personal ones that you will use only for con monies will make things easy for you and your team when it comes to keeping con funds organized.  You’ll want that ready before you begin promoting your con one year ahead of your con dates so that you’ll have a place for people to Paypal you registrations and to deposit the checks when you get home.

NOTE: You really need to have another person (preferably a con team member, but a spouse is ok, too) on these accounts so that someone else can help with the accounting if anything prevents you from doing so.

Start a supply box of things you will probably need during the convention. You may get some supplies passed along to you by a previous con chair, but even if you do, make sure you have at least the following in your supply box: 4 or 5 pairs of scissors, 50 or so pens/pencils (sharpened), hangers for art (S hooks, large paperclips), tape of various types (regular, double-stick, painter’s, duct), a package or two of price stickers, several Sharpies, long receipt books which make an original and a copy, a ream of copier paper, flathead and  Philips screw drivers, a stapler/staples, pencil sharpeners, paper clips, matches; sheets/cloths to throw over items when the dealers room is closed.