2024 Financial Transparency

Now that things are buzzing again a bit, I want to have a Real Talk.

ConChair 2024 here. Have a seat. I’m about to be SUPER transparent. Don’t worry. You’re not in trouble. And Penguicon isn’t in any trouble that we can’t get out of. We’ve got this.

Have we been struggling financially a bit the past few years? We have.
These conventions cost a relative fortune to host, especially when you are trying to work in “post”-COVID conditions, with pre-COVID expectations. Our long-time hotel was used to being able to charge $X for things, and so they did, despite half-attendance. Attendees are used to certain things that are part of what make PenguiCon our favorite event. These things ARE part of Penguicon, but they also cost money that isn’t necessarily scaled to the attendance as much as we would like. The ConCom has worked hard to keep PenguiCon as amazing as possible, while tightening its PenguiBelt.

Here’s the honest truth.
Going into 2020, PenguiCorp (the organization) was already struggling. We’d gone through a few years of hotel charges we hadn’t anticipated, and ended up chewing through savings. 2020 was to be run on a lowered budget, and we would have recouped, been prepared for the additional hotel fees, and we would have been in really good shape afterward! We had this.

However. 2020. Happened. And all that that implies.
I am still more grateful than you know to everyone who donated or offered to roll over their badges that year (I was conchair for 2020). It literally saved PenguiCon.
But yearly expenses are not minimal. Savings took a hit.

And then 2021 had to be virtual, as well. It ran on a zero budget, with any expenses being entirely donated. The storage cube still had to be paid for. PenguiCorp still had yearly expenses to cover. Savings dwindled again.

2022? We were being literally held to the hotel contract that PenguiCorp signed in 2019, with very few compensations made. PenguiCon’s expenses go up exponentially, the fewer hotel rooms we sell. And we were nowhere near our contracted number of rooms, despite all of the amazing attendees who booked double! PenguiCorp spent almost the entire rest of its savings to prevent even MORE expenses from outright bankrupting us.
PenguiCorp still had yearly expenses to pay for, on top of the hotel and con costs.

In 2023, we were finally able to get a revised contract, though it was still going to cut it VERY close. The hotel was still accustomed to us being able to afford certain things. Thanks to our amazing attendees, we covered costs and we still exist! But Penguicon only JUST covered costs, despite running on absolute pennies, pleas, and practicality. There was no income over and above what it cost. And there was nothing left over.

In fact, extremely generous board members have paid a lot of the the last 6 months of expenses out of their own pockets, just so that Penguicon can still exist.

So far this year (post-2023 event), we have raised almost $3400 in badge sales and donations. We have started to rebuild our finances. We know what’s coming, and are (almost) prepared. Unfortunately, the hotel contract this year includes partial pre-payment requirements, at $5,000 a pop (not uncommon for working with a new hotel). The Storage Cube continues to cost monthly fees. We will need to pay for Sched so that we can properly schedule programming and save on printing fees. And our Event Insurance bill comes due early next year, and is another few thousand dollars. All of this comes sooner than our bank accounts would like. The earlier you purchase your tickets, the less we have to stress over covering the pre-con expenses.

So. Are we going to continue to ask you to buy badges early and often? Are we going to beg you to book those hotel rooms? Are we going to suggest you hit up our RedBubble to buy nice things? Are we going to ask you to volunteer and sign on as staff so that ConCom can focus on putting more effort into fundraising?

Yes. We are.

Penguicon would love to keep existing. We would LOVE to leave 2024 in a position where 2025 isn’t starting from a deficit. We would love to be able to bring back some things we’ve had in the past, but have had to pause. We would love to keep bringing you bigger and better things as we all pull through this.

I would like to thank in particular: our sponsor Liberty Center One, which hosts Penguicon’s server space. The amount of data we own is not insignificant, and this has been incredibly generous of them.

I would also like to thank our Board members, who have been amazing and are actively working to decrease our expenses, when they’re not paying for them out of their own pockets. Some of these things take time to wrap up, but they’re hoping they might be able to announce a big one early next year.

I would also like to thank you, our attendees. Our staff. Our volunteers. Penguicorp, Penguicon, 2024 ConCom, and everyone else involved thank you. From the bottoms of our penguin-y hearts.

Speaking of penguin bottoms… I’ve started a tracker for this year, and as we raise funds, you get to color in this year’s Penguin! This way, we can all see WHAT we’re paying for, and how far we have come.
Penguicorp and its annual events like Penguicon 2024 are a 501c3, a non-profit. We never look to make a profit. We seek to cover the convention expenses, and the annual Penguicorp expenses, and then if we’re able, bank a little savings. No more, no less.