Worldcon Emergency Fund

The Worldcon Emergency Fund was created in 1969 after the St Louiscon Movie Screen Affair when the excess money collected had to go somewhere. (Harlan Ellison (who had led efforts to collect the cash) wanted to donate it to Clarion, but fans objected and the WEF was created instead. "Honest Joe" Hensley was the first custodian.)

The idea seems to have been that the money (initially around $1000) would be passed from Worldcon to Worldcon and not used except to cover an emergency. (Ah! The Good Old Days when $100 was a lot of money!)

Its subsequent progress is not very clearly documented.

  • 1971: Ads in Noreascon PR 3 and Noreascon PR 4 list the current value of the fund as $233.11
  • Later: Joe Hensley turned the fund over to either Noreascon or L.A.con
  • Late 1972: $250
  • Late 1973: $668.95
  • Late 1974: The Discon II PR 5 reports that $668.95 had been turned over to Discon II and that the WEF was now $1000 and that in addition, they passed on $700 to Aussiecon II.

In 1978 File 770 #6 p4 printed part of a latter from Bob Pavlat giving some history:

I was not aware that the knowledge of the existence of the Worldcon emergency fund had disappeared from fannish knowledge. It does exist. It amounts to a bit over $1000. Following Torcon 2 (1973) the Torcon committee passed on to the Discon II committee the Worldcon emergency fund, which then amounted to a bit less than $700. As reported in the Discon II final progress report (after the con) one of our allocations of profits was to the emergency fund, which brought it up to $1000. The Discon II committee was covered by a corporation, and the corporation continues even though some of the members have changed. The corporation has control of the fund. Australia (Aussiecon: 1985) did not want the fund passed to them, due in part to currency restrictions. To the best of my knowledge, neither KC nor SunCon inquired about the fund; I don't know if they were formally or informally informed of the existence of the fund.

  • April 1980: File 770 #20 p4 reports that #1251.82 was passed to Noreascon Two by SFC, Inc](the remnant of Discon II. (The increase from $1000 was interested collected since the end of 1974.

What happened next? We don't (yet) know, but at some point the WEF was wound up as being inconsequential, since the amount of the fund was basically unchanged, while Worldcon budgets had increased more than tenfold.

In 1989 the pass along funds program was established by Noreascon Three which serves much the same purpose, but at a level commensurate with the size of modern Worldcons.