IFComp prize fund now accepting cash donations

Like we did last year:
blog.ifcomp.org/post/17697288630 … -has-begun

We are, of course, also accepting prize donations of stuff in the traditional way:

I’ve made a donation, as I support this competition and its authors. However, I have some questions, concerns, and advice on how the contest and donations are configured:

  1. Last year donations were capped at the goal amount. Is this the case again this year? While publishing goals to drive donation is standard practice, refusing additional donations (or redirecting those donations to other programs) is not. I’d like some clarity from the IFTF about the rationale for this decision, especially given that (a) in-kind donations are not so capped, and (b) even if donation volume increased tenfold this year, the prize money awarded to authors is a pittance given the labor costs involved in writing IF.

  2. Is IFTF a 501©(3) nonprofit? I can’t find “nonprofit” anywhere on the main, about, or donation page of the IFTF web site, though it’s mentioned in passing in the FAQ, and there is a claim in last year’s blog post of 501©(3) status. I urge the IFTF to (a) clearly indicate 501©(3) status in a prominent place on the organization web site; (b) clearly indicate 501©(3) status when soliciting donations, and on the donations page, and © send donors of $250 or more a written donation acknowledgement letter, which is required by the IRS to claim a tax deduction.

  3. The overhead rate of 20% seems unusually high. I would prefer more of the donation money go to the authors, or to overhead costs specifically linked to hosting the IFComp. From the 2017 transparency report, it seems most of the overhead money went to IFTF legal fees and costs associated to the IF Archive. While I’m sure these items are important, I’d prefer a more modest overhead of ~5% and that these activities were funded from separate fundraising streams.

  4. I don’t believe I received an email notifying me that the IFComp donations had opened. Last year I didn’t even realize the IFComp was soliciting donations until the fund had closed. Nobody likes spam, but a yearly newsletter challenging past donors to match their donations is acceptable standard practice (Jason McIntosh was notably proactive in soliciting donations in this way).

I totally agree with this.

In fact, all donations should receive a receipt bearing the legal name of the organisation.

I’m assuming under US tax law, this would then count as a tax deductible cost for business donors and also private individuals. It would certainly be the case in Europe.

On point (2), I would be interested to know exactly what kind of organisation is the IFTF - from a legal perspective. Is it a corporation, a person or what?

I shall attempt to answer!

Donations were not capped. What was capped was the prize pool size.

We will always accept your money and say “thank you”. This is a rule. I recall this was a hassle with you last year, as you say, because you didn’t find out about the thing until late, and then we were having a discussion about how to handle it. I apologize.

Anyhow, we are doing the same thing this year. Our fundraiser target is $9000, and the prize pool is capped at $7200.

The interesting question is, what happens to “excess” donations? Our official answer is “We’ll decide based on circumstances.” Last year we got donations well past the fundraiser target, and we also got IFComp entries well past our expected comp size, so we made a decision to increase the prize pool. We wound up close to the original “80% to authors, 20% overhead” plan. But this was a late decision; I don’t want to make a policy promise this early in the cycle.

It was also true that last year we had money left over – that is, beyond the 20% overhead mark – for various reasons. So we decided to throw that money back into the pool. That’s why the progress bar started at $1100 on day one this year.

Yes. This is… oh, crap. This information was on the web site, I swear. I think it got lost when we redid the site software in May. I will add a note to clarify this. Thank you.

We’re listed in nonprofit directories such as guidestar.org/profile/81-1920375 .

You have to decide what you’re going to donate, of course. I can only say that at present, CF is our only fundraiser; we haven’t organized ourselves to do a “support IFTF operations in general” fundraiser. So it has to serve for everything.

I’m glad someone looked at the transparency report. :slight_smile: Legal fees are always on an whatever-project-needs-them basis. In 2017, we moved the IF Archive on board, so that required some legal stuff. This year, the Archive is running smoothly, but GDPR happened so we had to spend some lawyer time writing an IFTF terms-of-service page. (iftechfoundation.org/terms-of-service/ , it’s long and boring, sorry. But it applies to all IFTF programs, including IFComp.)

True! We will absolutely be doing this. We should have gotten started on it sooner. But over this weekend we got Jacq caught up on the spreadsheets which contain the relevant donor lists, so the process is in train.

I am not Jacq, but my argument is: we don’t want IFComp to go from a “winner gets $200” event to a “winner gets $2000” event with no warning whatsover. Like, if Jeff Bezos walks in and says “I love IF, here’s $100k, your prizes are now enormous.” That would change the color of IFComp a lot, and the consequences are not obviously good.

It’s not that we necessarily want to keep IFComp low-stakes! That’s not the goal. But our procedures are oriented around a low-stakes event – in terms of vetting entries, guarding against vote spam, and so on. And that’s true for the whole community side as well. To some extent, IFComp is structured around being an event that only IF enthusiasts care about, mostly. We’d like that to change incrementally, not catastrophically, so that we’re not swamped dealing with it.

Whoops. I assumed that this was covered by emailing out an acknowledgement letter in PDF form. Everybody knows that that’s what “written letter” means, right?

Sigh. Once again, I apologize.

Thanks for the quick and thorough reply—looking forward to playing the entries!