OREGON SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTIONS, INC. (OSFCI) is the nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation formed by fans when it became apparent that Portland Fandom would continue to present science fiction events for the public. These “events” have primarily been conventions. OSFCI is open to proposals for conventions and other events that promote and educate the public about science fiction. For an overview of the benefits and requirements of OSFCI affiliation, see Appendices A and B.
The questions we address here are how you can best prepare the groundwork for an event or convention bid and present it to OSFCI. We offer a series of guidelines about what information and level of detail the OSFCI Directors require for sponsorship of an event or bid.
The key element we look for is forethought. Fine detail is less important than evidence that you considered the many aspects of your event and have some idea how to handle them. These considerations include:
- The first piece of information OSFCI needs to know is: What are you asking for? Do you simply desire a corporate umbrella, or do you wish additional services? if you’re asking for financial support, have in mind how much and what for. Do you want to use OSFCI’s P.O. Box or establish your own? Do you want to use our mailing list and/or bulk mailing permit? What is your background and why are you doing this? What assets do you have to offer this event? Give us a general overview.
- How will requested money be spent? This differs for actual events as opposed to bids. For events like conventions it is pretty straightforward–money is spent on printing, lining up guests and front money for the facility. For a major convention bid we suggest that monetary requests be specifically for PR purposes or for fundraising activities. How much will go to fliers, for program book ads, for bid party expenses, etc.? Do you intend button sales, pre-supporting membership sales or other fundraising activities?
- Hotel or other facility.Try to have a letter of agreement from the hotel or other facility that indicates your event being “pencilled in” or having “first refusal” for the proposed dates. This letter should outline the space allocated, how long you have it, charges for meeting space and room rates.
If it is a space not previously used for OSFCI events, a brief comment on why it was selected would be helpful. Facility maps, capacity charts, and other printed information or photographs are welcome.
- Committee. A person wishing to chair a convention should be an OSFCI member, i.e., have worked on two convention committees, or have equivalent experience. A list of people willing to work on the event/bid should be made available, with some information on committee members’ areas of interest and/or experience.How many people are willing to work on the event? Is this enough? If you need more, where will they come from and when?
The general rule of thumb is: the larger the proposed event, the more important it is that members of the committee have previous experience. A usual minimum for any event would be a chairperson and a treasurer with convention experience. For larger conventions most department heads should have convention experience. Areas in which experienced workers are particularly important include the Art Show, Registration, Programming, and Hotel Liaison.
Committee structure does not need to be finely detailed at this point, but basic committee structure, whether or not there is an executive committee, etc., useful information.
- Budget.Previous convention budgets are available through OSFCI. A detailed budget is not necessary at the proposal stage, but some key information is necessary for OSFCI. This includes:
- Hotel or facility expenses.
- Guest-of-honor expenses. (In most cases this can only be an estimate–you probably do not have a confirmed GoH. Look at where your farthest possible guests- live and estimate travel, hotel, and per them expenses for each one and a companion. Do the same for Toastmaster and/or other special guests for whom you will pay expenses.)
- Overhead expenses. These include advertising, office supplies, registration materials, staging and technical expenses, security, etc.
- An overall estimate of total expenses.
- Estimated attendance, including minimum (breakeven) and maximum (facility or planned limit) and number for which the event is targeted (nominal attendance).
- Membership rates.
- Include times when pre-registration discounts expire.
- Will there be children’s, senior citizen’s, handicapped rates?
- Who gets free memberships and why?
- Membership income. Relate to cutoff points for pre-registration discounts, and to the accrual of expected expenses.
- Other income. This might include Dealers, Art Show, sales of advertising space in event publications, etc.
- An estimate of total income.
- Using the above figures, what is the break-even point?
Please note that the budget will prompt the most questions from the Board. Be able to explain how you arrived at your figures. Any budget presented should balance and include breakeven numbers.
- PR / Advertising.Who will want to attend your event? Where do you plan to advertise and sell memberships? What other kinds of PR are planned? Is the event tapping the usual convention crowd, a subsection of the SF community, e.g., Dr. Who fandom or Marvel Comics fans, or is it designed more for the general public?
- If you seek support for a bid, the following information also must be provided:
- Bidding procedures.
- How much lead time do you have for campaigning for the bid?
- An estimate of the competition.
- What events need to be attended by representatives of the bid committee to solicit support for the bid, and are members available to do this?
- Historical data from groups who have staged this kind of event.
- Other legal-entities involved, i.e., is there a constitution or set of bylaws covering this event, are there service mark or trademark owners involved, etc.?
- Security. What security problems does your event face? Will you use outside “hired” security, a committee troubleshooting team, or another method?
- Contingency Plans. Do you have “assessment times” built into your plans to review progress and replan or retrench if necessary? What mechanisms are there for reducing expenses or controlling liabilities?
Representatives of the OSFCI Board or other “old hand” convention workers can help you with questions you may have about how to gather all this information. The purpose of this document is to make it easier to organize science fiction related events. We want to share as much information as possible.
After gathering the information, type it up, covering the above items as succinctly as possible. Attach your hotel/facility information and a copy of the hotel’s letter of intent.
Contact the OSFCI Secretary, and ask to address the Board. Submit your complete information packet to the Secretary, who will make copies and distribute it to all Board members. Be sure to allow sufficient time for the Board to consider your request prior to any deadline involved in your event. It may take a month to six weeks to schedule a meeting for you to make your presentation. The Board may not be able to decide on your proposal at that meeting; for example, the Board may require you to provide additional information. If that is the case, your timeline will be affected. You must allow sufficient time for Board review and consideration.
You can bring along one or two other committee members if they can help answer questions about your proposal.
The basis for our decision will be based primarily on how well you’ve thought out the event and how clear you are on the specific support for which you are asking. Other major factors include the following:
- Is there enough manpower willing to help work on the event?
- Is the facility space adequate for the size of the event?
- Does the proposal answer the appropriate questions?
If the event is approved, a contract will be drawn between OSFCI and the management of the event. Previous contracts are available for inspection (see also Appendix C: Sample Contract). As mentioned earlier, an OSFCI representative will sit on the event committee; at the same time, a committee person will become an ex-officio member of the 05FCI Board. Ex-officio members may participate in discussions at Board meetings but cannot vote. This is done to provide communication between the two groups and to facilitate smooth running of the event.
That’s the procedure. We encourage people to think about events and to try them. This non-profit organization was founded to help put on SF-related events and try new ideas. We want that to continue.
OSFCI support may take many forms, including but not limited to the following:
- Corporate status for purposes of legal documents, conduct of business, etc. (there may be certain restrictions imposed per contract).
- Use of OSFCI mailing list and bulk-mailing permit.
- Event management and OSFCI may open accountst post office boxes, etc., under the name “Oregon Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. (OSFCI) dba Name of Event,” and use for this purpose the Tax I.D. numbers under which OSFCI does business. This will be an account dedicated to the event.
- Use of OSFCI address (post office box), unless stipulated otherwise; however, the management of the event must keep the name and current home address of a responsible party on file with OSFCI.
- May mention in its publicity or elsewhere that it is affiliated with or sponsored by OSFCI.
- OSFCI pays taxes, levies, license fees, fines, and other legal obligations; however, it has the power to assess the management or accounts of each event for reimbursement of a fair proportion of such payments.
- OSFCI keeps final corporate records of account and files the necessary legal documents.
- OSFCI offers advisors with experience in large and smal-1 events, facility and community relations, publicity, publications, etc.
- OSFCI is known to local businesses such as major hotels, chamber of commerce, printshops, etc.; thus your affiliation gives you instant recognition.
- OSFCI maintains continuity over personnel changes as an ongoing (e.g., annual) event gains and loses committee members.
- Event has one ex officio (non-voting) seat on the OSFCI Board of Directors.
OSFCI has the right to use the name of the event in its own publicity or public releases. OSFCI also retains ownership of material and assets associated with the event and not otherwise assigned by contract.
OSFCI Bylaws require a contract containing at least these provisions:
Contracts with Affiliated Events:
- OSFCI shall establish a service agreement with the management of affiliated events in the form of a contract, expressly setting forth the nature of the affiliation and the responsibilities and grievance procedures of all parties to the contract.
- All contracts with the management of affiliated events must include the following provisions unless specifically waived in a given contract by the Board of Directors:
- Event must conform to OSFCI corporate purposes set forth in Article II of the Articles of Incorporation.
- Event must be a permissible activity under Internal Revenue Service Code of 1954, section 501(c)(3) or equivalent tax-exemption rules, and Oregon nonprofit corporation law.
- There must be one or more responsible parties, involved in the management of the event, who act as agents representing the event to OSFCI. OSFCI requires the legal names and current home addresses of these responsible agents.
- Proper books of account must be kept by the management of the event, and opened at any time upon order of the OSFCI President, Treasurer, Board of Directors, or corporate membership.
- The event has one ex officio seat on the OSFCI Board of Directors; likewise, OSFCI has one ex officio seat in the management of the event. The term of these seats is related to the duration of the event, including its planning and its settling processes. The OSFCI seat in the management of an affiliated event is filled or assigned by the president of OSFCI. The management of the event assigns the resident of its seat on the OSFCI Board of Directors.
- All aspects of an event that reflect on the corporate liability and the corporate image of OSFCI shall be subject to approval and review by the Board of Directors.
- All extensions of credit and other financial activities of the affiliated event are subject to the approval and review of the Treasurer, President, and Board of Directors of OSFCI.
- The corporation reserves the right to assess fees upon the management of an affiliated event, as specified in the contract.
- OSFCI and the management of an event both have the right to own and use any mailing lists acquired by the event.
- Any party to the contract may terminate the contract upon reasonable notice and conditions to be specified in each contract. No reason or reasons for termination need be given.