Getting ready for your tournament, funding and sponsors should be paramount after you have the overall vision / structure in your head. When it comes to raising funds, you will have your own (or your group’s) money to serve as a foundation and your revenue from selling tickets. I would recommend having at least a few hundred dollars that you’re willing to commit from your own pocket for early expenses, because ticket revenue will trickle in and you’ll probably want to lock up at least some of your purchases well in advance. Especially in the first year of the GT, you might not have significant ticket purchases until the three months or so leading up to the event. We opened up ticket sales for the Bugeater on January 1st during year one, but didn’t see major purchases until March. And remember that I’m writing this from the perspective of the Bugeater, where we don’t have any expenses for our facilities. I have no idea if there would be deposits required for other facilities, so keep that in mind as well.
When it does come time to go on sale with tickets, most use pay pal for the convenience, but remember that they will take a portion of the sale as paypal fee. Be careful: even if you adjust your ticket price to compensate for the paypal fee, you CANNOT state that as it violates paypal’s rules. To make ticket sales even easier, I’d recommend using some sort of marketplace add in for wordpress or another web content suite to manage ticket sales. That will also make it easier to track who is purchasing for what event if you’re doing multiple game systems.
If you can somehow provide concessions in house, I would highly recommend it. While that will require more people to run the concessions, you can easily turn a profit. Local pizza places, grocery stores, and restaurants are usually willing to throw some discounts your way for bulk purchases (if it is a fundraiser, like ours was, you can get some massive discounts). We earned hundreds of dollars off of selling pop, candy, and chips throughout the event (which we purchased from Sams) and even more from providing lunch on both days.
When securing sponsorships, understand that as the number of tournaments have proliferated many companies require applications to receive support … and in many cases require that it isn’t the inaugural year of the event so they know that you can run a successful event and that their investment in your tournament is worth it. Some, Battlefoam for example, require a minimum number of people to provide prize support. Others are more lax, like KR Multicase, and are more willing to spread the love and support a multitude of events in the community.
Don’t get disheartened if a company is unwilling in your first year to give free support. A pretty good way to get stuff you want while mitigating a company’s fear of return on investment would be to seek product at cost. Chessex provided our dice bricks we gave away at cost (so 55% off retail), which made the purchase reasonable. The gift cards for our award winners were provided by the local store the Game Shoppe at cost (again, 55% retail). If you want or need to purchase things from companies that aren’t related to wargaming (our tape measures from year 2, for example), don’t expect significant discounts. I played the educational fundraiser angle, but I know of some groups who play the “we’re a small gaming group” angle and have gotten some marginal discounts, like no shipping. Always be willing to advertise for them, and explain how you intend to advertise but say you are open to doing more if they’d like. This can go a long way to securing sponsors for your event. I would recommend looking at the sponsor list in our packets, and talking to any of them. They were truly excellent to work with.
Get creative with your sponsors – your goal has to be to mitigate costs at every angle while providing your tournament goers with a great experience. And don’t think of sponsorships for the exclusive purpose of prize support for your award winners. One of the greatest elements of the Bugeater GT is that we randomly award prizes to attendees throughout the event, just for showing up. It provides an incentive to come back on day 2, and people get way more psyched when they bring stuff home they randomly won. See if people will sponsor you for terrain production, too – sometimes Woodland Scenics will contribute product for this reason.
Here are the Bugeater finances, to give you an idea of what we earned and what we spent:
- GT Tickets: $5756.14 (this covers all purchased ahead of time, GT Tickets, Spectator Passes, etc.)
- Cash Box: $1597.21 (after the $250 cash set up, this is all the funds raised at the GT – add’l golden gobbo entries, concessions, and the raffle)
- Interest: $3.63
- Game Shoppe $1224.62 (gift cards, 40k and fantasy boxes, space hulk, etc. The GS also donated many prizes for free)
- Website Renewal $194.62 (multiple years, not an annual expense)
- Chessex Dice $246.09
- Objective Markers $360.69
- Tape Measures $407.04
- Staff Food $42.78 (purchase twice for tournament prep)
- Patches $252.00
- Godfathers $293.80
- Hy-Vee $390.65 (taco lunch, concessions)
- Hobby Lobby $76.91 (table covers)
- Lowes $82.46 (boards)
- Donation to the debate program $3828.00
If you total that up, it’s $42 in the hole. I ate the cost of buying pizza for tournament staff on my own. Also, people who helped out with the GT got discounted GT tickets. They had to help with the set up and tear down of the event to get that discount. The big advantage is that we can have it at a school. $3828 donation gets us facilities, access to free copier usage, the projector, the microphone – all the school infrastructure that we needed. There is no way we could have gotten the swag bag items and prizes that we did if we had to pay for facilities elsewhere.
Understand that unless you can get free facilities (or really cheap facilities), you will probably be in the red or you will barely break even in the first year. However, if you have any additional money left over I would recommend saving it for the following year instead of getting more stuff for the current year. You will have infrastructure expenses the next year, especially if you intend to expand, and if you can mitigate the amount of your own personal money you have to put in to make that better, then you’re in a good situation. Because in addition to things like prize support, you’ll have table covers and boards and terrain to worry about. So keep in mind the prospect of carrying over funds to year 2.
That’s all for now. Next time, I’ll probably discuss scenario construction since we’re reconstructing our 40k packet right now to fight in sixth edition. TTFN.