The logistics and finances of organising a CiviCon (with real figures from London 2013)

2013-11-21 09:17
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I thought it would be useful to share a quick overview of how we are organising our conferences these days, and for people to understand how much it costs to put these events on, where the money comes from, and where it goes to.

The logistics

Over the past few years we have developed a model that seems to work quite well for organising a CiviCon.  We are always improving and evolving the model, but there is a fair amount now that we have well rehearsed and easy to repeat. This is good since it takes some of the unknowns, and the stress out of organising. It also helps us get other people involved, share the knowledge, and grow the conference organising teams, which in turn helps us to improve and evolve things further (a nice virtuous circle).  Organising teams are crucial to success of our events. They put a lot of work in to make each conference work and we need more help with each conference.

The financials

For the past few London and San Francisco conferences, we have held three events one after the other.  We start with a user and administrator training, followed by our main conference, followed by a sprint.  Each of these events have their own incomes and expenses. Looking at overall profit and loss for these three events over the past 4 or 5 conferences, we have broken even each time (+/- approx$2,500).  This is not as co-incidental as it might at first seem, since we have typically used the profit from the conference and the training to subsidise the sprints. It doesn't cost a lot to put on a conference and we try and keep all costs to a minimum.

Here are the figures from London 2013.

Income from sponsors £7500
Income from attendees £11450
Total income £18950
Venue - £5600
Food - £4400
Filming - £1450
Other (banners, swag, badges, etc.) - £1850
Accomodation for core team - £1350
Flights for core team - £3600
Total expenditure - £18250
Profit/loss £700
TRAINING (including the pre conference sprint)  
Income from attendees £3800
Venue - £1300
Food - £800
Profit/loss £1700
Income from participants £2000
Venue and food - £4900
Other (networking equipment, etc.) - £250
Profit/loss -£3150

So from a financial point of view, we broke even again. (Of course from a community perspective, we made a massive profit. If you consider the aims of these events to be: spreading learning about CivICRM; helping people connect with each other; moving the project forward and so on, we made great progress on all three fronts.) But a modest profit would do us good and give us funds that we could re-invest in improving future conferences.

Looking ahead

CiviCon London and San Francisco aren't the only events in the CiviCRM calendar.  CiviCamp DC this past September was a great example of a totally independently run financially succesful CiviCRM event, and over the past year, we've had trainings, sprints and meet ups in many different cities around the globe.  We'd love to see more of these and are happy for more events to be run independently if that works for you.

We'd also love to expand our organising teams for San Francisco and London. Helping organise a CiviCon is actually a great way to boost your profile and build connections in the community. It's also very rewarding and a great way to contribute back to CIviCRM.  CiviCon San Francisco is fast approaching (24th and 25th April 2014) and we are looking for people that want to help out.  We also have CiviCon London dates in the Calendar as well (25th and 26th September) and are keen to make a head start on that. If you'd like to help out with CiviCon SF, please contact If you'd like to help out with CiviCon London, please email

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