Smashing pots to bring in those rupees…
An interesting way of saying here’s how are we managing donations & spending.
We realise topics like finance might not seem like the most exciting topic for a blog/article 😴 💤 we do feel it’s still important to be transparent and have this information out there, and sharing what we do with your contributions and what we spend, its not all on beer 🍺 and cake 🍰!
You might be surprised to learn that running London Gaymers has a some regular and some fairly substantial outgoings to keep the group that we all love going with new events, activities and programmes. Most events need things like stickers, name tags , etc. — online services such as domains, and hosting take their fair share, and then there are the more obvious ones like equipment and games for our meetups (even at venues like Loading, we take at least two extra consoles/screens along to top up the equipment they already have). This all very quickly adds up!
Recognising that this was not sustainable, a number of members wanted to help. They suggested that a regular way to put a little bit of money towards the running of the group would be 👌. This is where Patreon came in, more on the specifics of Patreon later, but if you’re not familiar with it the basic idea it’s a service that allows members to voluntarily contribute a small amount, regularly, to ‘creators’ — in this instance, London Gaymers.
Thanks to our lovely Patrons; we’ve been able to keep nearly all our events at cost, or less, and in most cases — free! We’ve been able to purchase new equipment, and have managed to participate in MCM and Pride in London.
As London Gaymers gets bigger however, now with over 2000 members and 100+ events a year; it becomes more important to be more transparent about what money is coming in from Patreon, and what we are spending that money on. During the Town Hall earlier this year we spoke about what we get in. What we spend. And some of the issues we face.
What’s coming in?
This one’s nice and short. An average month — we get £138 after fees, currency exchange, and tax, from Patreon. This is across around 35–40 patrons each pledging between $1 and $10 per month each. The number of pledges and the amounts people pledge tend to fluctuate each month.
You might be thinking hmmm 🤔 what about all that merch? We actually don’t make any money on merchandise! In most cases we round up to the nearest pound after costs. This keeps costs down as much possible for those that want to get thier hands on that branded swag. All in all, it averages to less than £10 a month profit from merch. That being said if you want to go buy a lovely coffee mug ☕️ or t-shirt 👕 head over to the store on the Facebook Page.
What we’re spending.
In the 12 months between Feburary 2017 and 2018 this is how London Gaymers outgoings looked.
Whislt most is self explanitory — lets work backwards on what each of these mean.
Debt: Unfortunatly LG does have a small amount of debt. This is money that is outstanding/owed to Admins, members or 3rd parties for favours or expenses.
Stationary: ✉️ This is mostly stickers, pens, envelopes, postage, those kinds of things. Little things but they all add up. 🙈
Games: 🎮 To keep costs down most of the games we’ve purchased are second hand or bargain basement titles. During the 2017 financial year we bought things like Smash Brothers 64, Halo 3, a few multiplayer titles, and Injustice, Tekken and Bayonetta to supliment our fighter games nights. Unforuntatly some of these games do get damaged so we occasionally have to replace them. 💔
Equipment: During 2017 we purchased two TVs, a rapsberry Pi and a few controllers. We’ve also purchased a couple of cables or adapters for specific connections or to solve some issues at venues. All this equipment helps suppliment Loading events, as well as any other events we run where we need to provide our own equipment 📺.
Events: This covers the small things like sweets and cake at regular events, right through to decorations for specific events. During 2017 we had several big events. LG5 (7 events in 7 days to celebrate our 5th birthday) saw the purchase of several birthday cakes for instance. During the Pride in London festival we had a special Loading bar event in which we provided treats and prizes. We also had our big Halloween party with VR experience 👻, and the Christmas Loading which were both well decorated in the finest pound shop and amazon basics chic you can imagine. There have also been several prizes for the IRL tournaments at Loading 🏆. These small touches make the events that extra bit special.
Online Services: This covers a few things; Hosting is one of our bigger expenses. To reduce this cost going forward we moved our online store to Facebook, we expect this budget to be the same or lower for 2018 but doing so much more with what we have. We also put some money towards advertising; there are a number of events that we advertised for, notably the Pride in London event. This helped drive our mission statement of helping people find us and we had a very good return on the money that was spent. Advertising also helps us target new audiences and areas as part of growing the group (for example our Womens Diversity project). The online survey tool that we use during survey time (November/December) costs a small amount too. There is also a small amount attributed to some of the streams, when we stream our tournaments to multiple sites for example.
Pride: 🏳️🌈 Pride was our biggest budget item during 2017. This makes sense as it’s one of the biggest events in the calendar, but we did make sure that some of the more expensive items that we purchased we reusable. For example the roller banners have been re-used at various outreach events and Loading Bar events — the flags can, and will be reused in future prides and other events too.
Issues with a Patreon Based income…
Many that know me will know that I have my concerns and frustrations with Patreon as a platform. Outside of a few technical issues/restrictions, there are some fundamental frustrations with the financials of the platform; these issues seem to boil down in to a few points.
1️⃣ US Dollar only based platform sucks for non US Patrons and ‘Creators’. The issue with collecting, and paying out in Dollars is that the exchange rate is so bad at the moment that we don’t really see much return on the pledges. The currency exchange can also make it unpredictable on how much we’ll get. It also makes it hard for the Patrons to know how much they’ll be charged and budget, and if they don’t want to use PayPal they may get hit with foreign currency fees. When we first started with Patreon we were getting almost twice the amount per Dollar when it was converted to Sterling. When we make the transfers we tend to go for a day where the exhcnage rate is a bit more favourable to squeeze as much as we can out of the lump sum we get.
2️⃣ Irritating fee structure, exasperated when making small pledges. For every dollar a user pledges, we generally see around 85–90 cents worth. Patreon and transfer fees eat up the rest.
3️⃣ Tax. Yup. For every dollar you pledge — you actually pay $1.20 because the governement wants a slice too. That’s fair I suppose, but when you’re only paying a dollar, that’s a big percentage jump, and most of our contributors are on the $1 and $3 tiers.
tl;dr For every dollar each Patron pledges — they actually pay $1.20, and we see on average 85c of that. After currency exchange, that’s around 60p Sterling for us. Not a great return!
So what can we do?
During the town hall we discussed what options were open to us:
You told us that you’d like to see more promotion of the Patreon, because right now it’s quite hard to find. This was in part a deliberate act on our end. We’ve always been bashful about asking for money — because we’ve never wanted people to feel obligated to donate as some kind of entry requirement. Our core values include keeping events as free or cheap as possible. Going forward we are going to make our Patreon slightly more visible but never to the point where we think it might become uncomfortable for people.
You told us that you would like the chance to donate via PayPal or other means. This is something we are working on but is difficult for us to do until we get some kind of official recognition with the government, but it is something we are working on.
You told us you’d not mind putting cash in a collection bucket at an event. This is again something we’ve always been shy of, but if we can figure out a way to make this a possibility whilst keeping it above board, we will.
In the future we are looking at other ways we can raise money too. We have good relationships with some games companies now so perhaps we look for ways they can help us out. We also have some really good relationships with several venues so we are pursuing potential opportunities with some of those guys too to see what they can do for us!
We just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who has donated either via Patreon or other means… the money goes towards the important work we do, and towards keeping this group as accessible, inclusive, and fun for as many people as possible.
If you’re not already a Patreon contributor — and you want to contribute, check out http://patreon.com/LondonGaymers 🤗