For TEDx Inquiring Minds: We have The Columbus Foundation and COSI to thank for a model of sustainability.
We get asked all the time by other TEDx organizers what our financial model is. We’re thrilled to share it here as we’ve worked hard the last few years to figure what will work best.
We have a special fund at the Columbus Foundation, our community foundation, set up to receive contributions from individuals and corporations that want to support TEDxColumbus. COSI, our local center of science and industry (think children’s museum meets awesome science center) then acts as our fiscal agent, receiving the money from the TEDx Fund and also ticket sales. They in turn, pay all the expenses for the event.
We aim for our expenses for our event match our income. Our major line-items include technology and production; event staging, lighting and sound; food for attendees; parking and printing. We get a massive amount of goods and services donated – such as all of our creative, photography, web support, animation and mobile application. We have a special grant that underwrites basic event coordination expenses which allows the event to be sustainable and is applied to web updates, speaker coordination, sponsorship fulfillment, ticket monitoring, volunteer oversight, vendor coordination and social media and community engagement. At the end of the event if we have overage (income exceeds expenses), we apply it to next year’s event and/or our minimal expenses on our viewing events (TEDGlobal, TEDxChange, TEDxWomen, TEDxKids) and our ongoing outreach efforts (Follow This, our blog, and Readers’ Roundtable, our book outreach series).
Many communities are still at a loss on how to organize with a fiscal agent. As COSI as our host, we are blessed with a symbiotic relationship which helps manage our back-office at no additional cost to us, while allowing us to focus on curating the best event possible.