Membership Refunds

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In the event a con has surplus funds after all expenses are covered, it may issue full or partial membership refunds to people who appeared on the program and volunteers.

Since most cons, especially new ones, and start-from-scratch efforts like Worldcons, require start-up funds, the typical fannish practice is that every person attending, except gohs, buys a membership, either in advance or at the door. This applies to pros, program participants, concom ... everyone.

Not only is this a large chunk of money, insuring a good financial cushion, it reinforces the fannish concepts of involvement and meritocracy. (The biggest downside — especially as membership fees rise — is that it adds to the challenges poorer fans face in attending; a few cons have instituted “scholarship” programs toward that end, and fan funds are a traditional means of supporting WKFs who couldn’t otherwise attend.)

While reimbursements are not a legal debt, they are a moral debt, and cons should budget to be able to pay them. Most cons require a minimum amount of participation to merit a refund. Refunds are never a given, however. (See Constellation Bankruptcy). And UK cons don’t do reimbursements (they issue Groats).

Surpluses are also used as pass-along funds or given to fannish good causes or charity. Books for the Blind was a common convention charity for years.

Some generous cons will grant refunds to members who paid in advance but find their plans to attend have changed, though a common practice for annual events is to roll the membership over to the following year.

If a con is cancelled, fans tend to be quite testy if advance membership fees aren’t refunded.


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