In the first post of this series I walked you through a bit of history behind the Italian Agile Day conference and the switch to a donation based funding model. In the very last paragraph I published the first numbers: costs and total donations collected for the last 3 editions:

And I wrote that 2 things immediately jumped at me: that I became really good at organizing conferences with a low budget and that this year's edition broke even thanks to some money left over the previous year.

There is a third thing though: this year's donations are less than those in 2007! The reason is that I want to expand on this in this post, there is much more behind it that it initially appears.

Donators & Donations

First of all I'll take out the €479 from the Agile Alliance (€500-PayPal charge) because it comes from the Conference Sponsorship Program and it's something I can rely on, it's not based on people goodwill and it's not from someone who actually attends the conference.

The total donations collected by year now become:

  • 2006: € 1,219
  • 2007: € 2,326
  • 2008: € 2,215

and these are the numbers we will use for our analysis. We also need to know more about how many people registered to the conference, how many effectively showed up and how many people donated. Here they are:

Remember that every year I cap the registrations and then manage cancellations and waiting list according to the venue's capacity. As can be seen while registrations and attendance have been growing organically (and the difference between the two within a year is sort of the same), donators haven't increased. On the contrary!! There were 6 less donators this year.

These are important figures that help me making informed decision for next year, I'll be able to ask for feedback to the community and work out a refined model - of course I've got quite a few ideas already. But I find even more interesting the following two charts.

The first one shows the percentage of donators and a worrying decline that needs to be tackled:

This chart actually shows what I was fearing before the conference: growing the conference each year with 50% of new people means more and more of them don't feel like blindly donating to something they don't know the value of (yet). There is something that can be done about this but I'll save it for the last post in the series :-)

The second chart is about the average donation per year and shows a promising trend with a clear message: people who donated believe there is an increasing value in the conference, probably because they attended a previous edition:

More importantly there is a 87% increase in the average donation between 2006 and 2008. This is promising and this is how I managed to break even this year even though the donations were less then last year while the costs were higher :-)

Next post

In the next installment I'm going to write about costs per attendee and their break down plus some hints at how to improve the situation.

Thanks for reading!