October Membership Drive: OTW Expenses, Large and Small

Since it was founded six years ago, the OTW has developed several major projects which have affected the fandom experience of thousands of people. The AO3 alone has over 200,000 registered users, and around 300,000 unique visitors a day. Some of those users are also utilizing archives preserved by Open Doors, and many more visit Fanlore or read and reference content from TWC’s fourteen issues. Both the OTW and individual fans also depend on advice provided by OTW’s Legal Advocacy project.

As our projects continue to grow in terms of questions answered, pageviews served, and new features developed, our costs continue to grow as well. Earlier this year we gave a detailed breakdown of the AO3’s expenses. In this post, we’d like to share some details about the expenses of running other projects and the OTW as a whole.

Communication and storage costs

Some of our volunteers work on specific projects such as the AO3 or Fanlore, while others provide services to the whole organization, such as fundraising or human resource management. Because the OTW only exists online, we save money on office space, furniture, and some utility and telecom costs, while our volunteers provide their own equipment. But they still require software and online platforms to interact, preserve privacy, develop information, and keep records. These costs are rolled into the OTW’s overall expenses and affect all of our projects.

$110 per month for Basecamp and Campfire provides the OTW with the following needed services:

* Committee meeting spaces with variable permission settings
* Spaces for meeting with the public in ‘open houses’
* Searchable transcription storage
* Creation and storage of group-editable documents
* Committee-level file storage
* Planning software
* Group calendars
* Archived messaging software for cross-committee information sharing and discussion
* In-house contact directory
* Committee-level and all-organization level activity dashboards

$40 per month pays for an internal server that houses the following software and platforms:

* A wiki that organizes all our internal documentation
* Our committee mailing lists
* Ticketing software used by our Systems Committee to keep track of problems submitted
* Our volunteer database
* Our password vault (for individual staffer, committee, and cross-committee level accounts)

Project Expenses

The Archive of Our Own is housed on servers that are owned by the OTW. Servers themselves are a one-off cost, but they involve monthly fees for colocation, and over time the hardware has to be replaced or added to. Our other projects use hosted servers for which we pay a monthly Web hosting fee. Every year there are changes. For example, in 2012 Fanlore added more disk space and the OTW website transitioned to a specialized Drupal hosting service.

$179.80 per month provides Web hosting and support for the following:

* The main OTW website
* Our Elections website
* The Open Doors website
* Our Journal website
* Our Fanhackers site
* Our fundraising database

A separate post to come will discuss hardware and hosting expenses which affect several projects, but particularly the Archive of Our Own.

Helping volunteers

Finally, there’s one big cost which isn’t included here: volunteer time. Whether it’s designing, inducting and training, coding, planning, testing, paying bills, doing taxes, developing documentation, or answering questions and providing information, we are run by volunteers. They give many hours of their time to support the OTW and support its users. Their work is priceless. <3 However, the tools they need to do that work do have costs. Here are some examples: * $167 per month covers the directors & officers insurance the OTW has to carry as required by law. * $54.41 per month pays for a post office box and mail forwarding service. * $43 per month covers software that organizes our finances. * $40 per month pays for a remote scanner service to deposit checks directly to our bank. * $2.08 per month pays for postage and office supplies for general administrative work (mailing insurance applications, bill payments, etc.). There are also one-time expenses, such as $99 for screencasting software that our Volunteers & Recruiting Committee will use to create tutorials to train our staff and volunteers.

Support the OTW!

As you can see from the above, it costs both small and large amounts of money to keep the OTW organized and running. These costs will increase in years to come as more users become aware of our services and vendor costs go up (for example, a new U.S. postage hike has been proposed). But you can help get us there!

All our projects are entirely funded by donations: we don’t run ads on any of our sites or charge people to use them. If the OTW’s projects make your fandom experience better and you have a little money to spare, please donate to help keep us thriving! A donation of US$10 confers membership in the OTW and the right to vote in organizational elections. At higher donation levels there are some awesome thank-you gifts to choose from.

Thank you to all our donors, past, present and future! We appreciate your support!