[Yapc-na-organizers] YAPC Auctions

Richard Dice richard.dice at gmail.com
Sun Apr 12 11:52:33 PDT 2009

Hi Daniel,

I'm seeking historical information about YAPC auctions.   Most
> importantly:  Who runs them, and where does the money go?

In my experience, it looks like this:

The local conference committee contacts the auction material suppliers
(which is 95+% books from publishers).  They ask previous conference
organizers & TPF persons for names of contacts at publishers in order to ask
for auctionable items.  In my experience publishers are very happy to ship
multiple boxes of items for these auctions.  They'll ask for some guidance
as to what they should include, so what I've done is cruise their web sites
looking at their catalogs, and I come up with a list of titles I think might
be of interest to YAPC attendees.  I ask for multiple copies of each item,
plus whatever else they are particular keen on promoting.

Uri has tended to be the auction caller, as he is very loud.  But this isn't
mandatory  -- the local organizers can pick whomever they feel can do a run
auction.  The local conference crew sets up the auction stage, wrangles
runners for cash receiving & item giving, etc.

The money is simply part of the operating bottom line of the conference,
which in the end all goes to TPF (as is the case for all revenues and
donations received by the conference, net of all expenses in the
conference.)  The auctions tend to have receipts in the $2000 - $8000 range,
which is often what is necessary for a YAPC::NA to go from the red to the
black (i.e. from TPF suffering a loss on the conference to TPF experiencing
a gain).

The issue:  We'd rather not have to deal with doing an auction this year.
> There are a few reasons:
> 1.  They take up a lot of time and it appears that few attendees seem to
> enjoy sitting the entire way through.
> 2.  Getting cash sponsorship for YAPC is more difficult in our present
> economic situation.  The option of an in-kind donation for the auction is
> a very attractive alternative to prospective sponsors, which we don't
> want.
> 3.  Somebody has to take the time to organize the auction.

The biggest general point I'd raise is what I said before -- our typical
experience is that a YAPC::NA without an auction would be a money-loser for
TPF.  At the very least, it would greatly increase the risks of it being
so.  I would urge against cancelling an auction unless the Pittsburgh crew
has a financially-bulletproof budget projection.

Regarding point (1), there are multiple schools of thought on the matter.
:-)  But I understand where you're coming from.

Regarding point (2), I believe what you're saying here is that, given the
choice, some companies you are approaching for sponsorship would, given the
choice, rather hand you a box full of t-shirts and tell you to auction them
than give you a $1500 cash donation.  The solution to this is easy -- don't
tell them about the auction.  Only ask for the cash.  The auction is mostly
just books anyhow.  The publishers are the only ones who need to know there
is an auction and what what they provide is going to be auctioned to raise
money.  And the publishers definitely won't give cash anyhow.

Now, if what you want is a donation of $1500 from X random company _and_
some schwag (like their company t-shirts), ask for the cash donation, and
then ask for t-shirts, so that you can give them out at the conference as
promotional items to raise the profile of the sponsoring company.   Like, as
door prizes.  Maybe a few would find their way into the auction too.

Regarding (3.) --> um, yeah, as I recall running a YAPC was a ton of hard
work and stress. :-)  It's what we sign up for.


I think the priorities in terms of decision making on this point are the

#1 -- can YAPC|10 be financially successful without an auction?
#2 -- does the auction experience add or take away from a YAPC?
#3 -- do we have the round tuits for it?

You mention something about major changes -- what did you have in mind?

 - Richard
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mail.pm.org/pipermail/yapc-na-organizers/attachments/20090412/2a04c33c/attachment.html>

More information about the YAPC-NA-organizers mailing list