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Page history last edited by Eteene Druin 7 years, 5 months ago

About this page


The purpose of this page is to document how sponsorship issues are being addressed across the Barcamp community worldwide. It is intended to be a living, breathing guideline for all you *camp organizers out there.


As of 2007/10/10, this is still very much a work in progress. As much as possible, the initial content was pulled out of the mailing list as well as various blog posts on the topic.


As always, please add your thoughts and help fill in the gaps. Thank you!


Table of content:


Best Practices



Case studies, success stories etc.



Best practices


Over the first couple of years of BarCamp, at way over 100 events, a number of guidelines have evolved from within the community with regard to sponsors and the support they provide, which are listed here as "best practices". Note, however, that there are almost always slight modifications necessary to any single one of these rules, so as to make things work at your *camp. Cultures and contexts differ, especially outside of the US. Every barcamp is not the same. The principles listed below just seem to have been applied in one shape or form a majority of the time.


  • Sponsor participation: Try to focus on (local) sponsors who can actually attend and participate in some way. (Source)
  • Limits: Limit cash contributions
    • Used to be $250 (in the US), recently was $300 at BarCampBlock, but has occasionally been higher elsewhere.
    • This is great because it means that no one "owns" BarCamp, and we get to keep the great community vibe. (Source)
    • Another reason this is a good idea: The little guys (startups, individuals) can contribute on a level playing field with the big guys (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft etc.)
  • Diversity: Many small sponsors are better than a few big ones.
  • Encourage in-kind donations: Request that sponsors order food and other food stuff directly, minimizing the organizer's duties and responsibilities as well as the amount of money they touch. (Source)
  • Chunking: Chunk (or microchunk) your sponsorships. Break your budget items into manageable chunks that companies can "adopt". For example, let one company pay for the lunch, and another for shirts, etc. Chunking is nice because it means the companies can write checks directly to the vendors, and you never have to touch any cash. This limits your personal liability and makes companies feel safer. (Example: BarCampRDU, Source)
    • Don’t get anyone’s company books involved. Too messy. Either deal in all cash or get a special paypal account. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be holding extra money. Best to get people to sponsor things like chair rentals, a meal, etc, and never touch the money yourself. (Source)
  • Transparency: List all incoming donations (cash and in-kind) as well as all outgoing costs on the wiki.




Other ideas folks have come up with:


  • Tiered sponsorship levels: Provide various sponsorship levels, or tiered sponsoring (Example: BarCampLA-4, Source)
  • T-shirt love: Put sponsor logos on the t-shirts (Example: BarCampDallas, Source
  • Sign-up fee: Charge a small sign-up fee (e.g. using Eventbrite). Sometimes $15 will ensure that people come after signing up. (Source)
  • Pay as you go: At BarCampBlock, it seems like funds were raised to cover the very basics first. Then, as more people signed up, more sponsors were added to cover more of the basics as well as the amenities (party, good food, schwag etc.). Bottom-up financing, kinda.




Room for concerns, caveats etc.


  • Cash value of in-kind donations: It's inconsistent to limit cash contributions but not list the cash value of (or set a limit for) in-kind donations. All contributions have a cash value. (Source)
  • No logos on t-shirts: In Germany, t-shirts w/ sponsor logos on the back were unpopuluar. (Source)


Case studies, success stories etc.


Share your experiences here. What worked? What didn't? What modifications did you have to make in order to get your *camp off the ground? What were some of the trade-offs you confronted? How did you raise the necessary funds?




Via Christopher (Source):


  • The recent Bar Camp Dallas didn't do a lunch sponsorship, and it turned out fine: we just all went out and had burritos. I'm not sure how well that would work with a larger group, though.




Via Pete (Source):


  • We list all the cash donations here: http://barcampmilwaukee.com/donations
  • We did it in reverse, making it a $200 minimum to be a sponsor. ... I'm starting to think we may need to change how it works for future *Camps, but we also need to provide value to companies who pony up $200+ as opposed to individuals who pitch in 5 bucks.
  • On our site we list all sponsors here: http://barcampmilwaukee.com/sponsors along with logos on the sidebar. (Any people who donated anything financially or otherwise will be thanked in some way.)
  • We also put all sponsor names on the back of the shirts: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rohdesign/1535393300/
  • We will definitely report on what money was spent. We're not sure of all of that yet, since the real spending will start tomorrow.
  • We've also tried very hard to get all sponsors to participate. We're lucky in that most of them were already participating before they decided to sponsor. A few need an intro to BarCamp culture though.
  • We have been against levels of sponsorship, etc. And the order you see them listed is the order they made a commitment to support BarCampMilwaukee2.


Just a note: BarCampMilwaukee2 has ended, and we'll have a report on spending as well as how the sponsors were in the next few weeks. We will also be discussing what worked/what didn't and ways to do things better in regards to sponsorship next time. -- Pete




Via Eric (Source):


  • We didn't get food for podcamp NYC and it worked out just fine as well.
  • I honestly think sponsorships are good for the event and the community, because it brings local companies sound cool stuff into the mix.




Via Dave (Source):


  • In Toronto the goal has always been to keep the sponsorship model flexible to accommodate each event. * Different events have needed larger sponsorship amounts and we've tried a couple of methods:
    • raising the individual sponsorship amount, i.e., >$300/sponsor
    • increasing the number of sponsors/event
  • Finding a happy medium. We've tried to remain egalitarian with respect to sponsors, i.e., if you're a big company and able to contribute more, but you get the same "billing" as the little guys. We've also had a large number of individuals support events with sponsorship.
  • The biggest challenges is around handling money. My advice is not to take cash donations. Get in kind donations.
  • The other advice is that every sponsor MUST PARTICIPATE!




  • We've moved all events to the bare minimum of sponsorship, i.e., sponsorship only to cover hard costs.
  • DemoCampToronto14 was 275 people. I guess we provide food because the event has held after work. Space costs and IT costs near $2500 + $1200 in food costs, cash bar. The Toronto Board of Trade covered the facility and AV costs.
  • DemoCampToronto15 is happening at the UofT. Currently 250 registrants, 100 seats still available. UofT CS department is covering up to $1500 of space (this could be incorrect, they might be covering 100% of the space costs). We're raising sponsorship to cover the remaining AV costs.
  • I think FacebookCampToronto (FCT1 - 450+ attendees; FCT2 - 250 attendees) did the exact same. Only raise sponsorship to cover hard costs.
  • Most of the venues to host 150+ people have a different costing structure, you either pay for space rental or you guarantee a minimum of food and drink. A/V costs have been separate. Each venue has required us to use their A/V company which is usually expensive in relative terms.
  • We've been forced to take sponsorship because of the size of the audience. But if you're less than 100 people you should be able to do this for next to nothing, i.e., space and a net connection.


Via Bryce (Source):



Various barcamps (Germany, China)


Via Franz (Source):


  • The amount of donation was free (sponsors can pick the amount they want to give)
  • All sponsors, big or small were treated the same
  • The sponsors had no right to influence the event
  • There was no minimum, but the average was between 500€ - 1000€
  • We never touched money, like Crystal proposed it in her "Ten steps to organizing a BarCamp". All bills were paid directly from a sponsor to caterers, t-shirt printers, any rentals. None of our own company books were ever involved.
  • Hard to find sponsors in the beginning, but some companies guarantueed us a certain amount, which we reduced with the donations of other sponsors. That worked very well. It gave us the neccessary finacial security to order shirts, food and what else is needed for a BarCamp.
  • Most of the sponsors, big or small, were participating with very interesting sessions, none of them ever tried to make it a sales show for their products and/or services.
  • Reasons why we didn't make it public to everyone are:
    • Most companies do not want that the amount of their donations are made public.
    • We have been attacked by German bloggers for being sponsored by companies that are blamed for making business in China. Not more than allegations and unverified (the same companies sponsored in the USA btw.) But these bloggers are loud and have a wide reach. They publish incorrect details and they play the racist/human rights card. It is impossible to debate with them. I tried and it resulted in deletion of my comments.
    • In Germany no one talks about money/income etc. It is a cultural taboo.
  • The amount of the donations are communicated to anybody at the event, we just haven't made them public on a website.


BarCampRDU (August 4, 2007 at Red Hat Offices, Raleigh, NC)


Via Fred (Source):


  • Expected attendees: 175 over two days
  • Sponsors: 6, contributing $5200 to pay for food, t-shirts, supplies, refreshments and a pre-party.