On July 25, Conveners.org co-hosted an in-person session with One World Training & Investment to discuss alternative revenue streams for convening. The lunch session, hosted in San Francisco, included participants from the Bay Area, as well as a few from out of town who were teleconferenced into the conversation.

The following is a summary of questions asked and points made by participants throughout the session:

  • What is your goal in creating revenue and minimizing cost?
    • One participant mentioned that in the early days they wanted to increase revenue and decrease cost. But now they run a portfolio of events, in which some of the events are “investments” that they we are willing to go into the red around, while others contribute to the organization’s sustainability.  
  • How do you define success of the event?
    • Another participant defined success in terms of “people, place and partners.” Place matters; the place should be a draw in and of itself.  People is the other: once you get anchor marquee people then you can build momentum and buzz around the event.  And partners, you have to be strategic around aligning yourself to the right partners.
  • What is the current structure for your revenue model?
    • While some events rely entirely on ticket sales (with more than half of ticket sales purchased at the early bird rate), others rely heavily on sponsors to drive in much of the profit. Still others consult or “white label” events for other organizations for profit.
  • How can you minimize the cost of your event? 
    • One participant mentioned that donations of certain services, such as printing, cut costs for their convening.
  • What are example of new revenue models that you’ve heard of?
    • One example mentioned is what StartingBloc & SOCAP are doing, in which they are creating language and communication materials that others can share online to help participants crowdfund to be able to attend the event. Another example is the Archimedes Project, which hosts their hackathons in university hubs after the semester closes, and the University then offers their space for free.

Another idea that arose during conversation was on using a leveraged-value model with event partnerships. One participant mentioned that they leverage their event speakers to help promote the event, and another mentioned a technology partnership that is enabling them to convene their community in a new way, while allowing the technology partner to gain more exposure for their platform.

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