Chicago Worldcon Community Fund

Chicago Worldcon Community Fund Model
Chicago Worldcon Community Fund by the Numbers
Archived Information

Chicago Worldcon Community Fund Model

The Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF) was established with the goal of helping defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for the following groups of people:

65% of applicants were non-white fans or program participants, 53% were LGBTQIA+, and 21% were local to Chicago. (Numbers exceed 100% because applicants often represented multiple marginalized groups.)

Assistance was provided through the provision of both memberships and financial stipends, which were available to both program participants and general members of the convention, so long as they met the criteria of the program.

For financial stipends, applicants were asked to provide the minimum amount they would need to attend as well as a maximum. All applicants received their minimum request with a handful receiving more. One application received very late in the convention cycle was unable to be granted due to lack of funds.

When it came to memberships there were somewhat different models for the two pools of recipients. For program participants, Chicon 8 provided a pool of 50 attending and 50 virtual memberships to the program division which were given away as comped memberships via the fund to program participants who requested assistance.

Non-program participants were able to apply for a pay-what-you-can membership. All non-program participant requests were able to be covered through the transfer of donated memberships, allowing all cash received to be used for stipends. The program would have fallen short based solely on donated memberships, but 17 memberships allocated to Ugandan applicants representing the KAMPCON bid were unable to be used when those applicants could not get visas to travel. In general, we received fewer donated memberships than expected compared to the experience of Dublin 2019, which we attribute to people who might otherwise have donated choosing to keep their attending membership and attend virtually.

There were three application deadlines: May 1, June 15, and July 31. All applications received by the deadline were reviewed equally. After July 31 disbursements were made the program switched to a first-come, first-served model.

Lessons Learned

Contributions to the fund came in bursts, unsurprisingly tied to an appeal for funding. Our most successful appeal was near the end, when we did not have enough funds available. We were able to use a specific dollar amount to encourage people to donate, and this was remarkably effective: “We need $5000 more to fund all the applicants, can you help?”

We needed to have some early application deadlines so people needing money to travel could receive it far enough in advance to make decisions and plans. In each of the first two rounds we were able to fund everyone to at least their minimum request, but because we had not saved any money from prior rounds, we risked not having funds for people who applied later. That’s where the “We need $5000” approach came in handy, and in the end we were able to fund at some level almost everyone who applied.

The approach of allowing applicants to specify how much money they needed allowed for a lot of flexibility to meet people’s needs, but did introduce decision making challenges. When funds were short in the third round, funding the minimum request of one applicant could have meant not being able to fund four or five other applicants with smaller minimum requests. In the end we had enough money to fund everyone to at least the minimum, but as the data below shows, applicants received wildly variable amounts.

Chicago Worldcon Community Fund by the Numbers

Donations Received

$23,604 from 139 sources

  • $2,102 from an auction run by Chicon 8 at Discon III
  • $396 as portion of Fan Funds Auction at Discon III
  • $2,500 from passed along from Discon III Capitalize fund
  • $1,100 from Discon III sale of leftover merch
  • $14,683 cash donations from 76 donors, including 7 people who donated multiple times
  • $1,940 in membership-related donations given in lieu of refund (e.g. double or over payment) from 26 donors
  • $873 from pay-what-you-can recipients (minimum donation $5, max $75)

Cash Leftover/Undisbursed

$1,924 ($1,700 due to last minute cancellations, including $1,200 set aside for Ugandan applicants who could not get visas).

Overall Support Provided

  • 101 people served in total
    • 68 program participants & 33 non-program participants
    • 58 membership only
    • 28 stipend and membership
    • 15 stipend only

Support to Non-Program Participants

  • 26 pay-what-you-can memberships
    • 16 First Worldcon
    • 6 Full Attending
    • 1 Teen
    • 3 Virtual

An additional 17 pay-what-you-can memberships were allocated to Ugandan members of the Kampcon bid who were unable to get visas to attend.

  • 17 financial stipends totaling $5,733
    • min of $100
    • max of $800
    • average of $337
    • median of $303

In addition, one hotel room for 6 nights was provided in lieu of cash support to one recipient household (value of $1200).

Support to Program Participants

  • 60 complimentary memberships 
    • 9 First Worldcon
    • 18 Full Attending
    • 33 virtual

One additional membership was allocated to a Ugandan participant who could not get a visa to attend.

  • 25 financial stipends to program participants totaling $15,798
    • min of $50 (to a virtual participant for data costs)
    • max of $2,300
    • average of $632
    • median of $500

Archived Information

About the Fund

The best thing about Worldcon is the people. Worldcon is an event where amazing, awesome people come together to create, to learn, to make, to do, and to participate with one another as we build our community together. 

This community becomes amazing when we are able to help as many people as we can join us. In reality, not everyone finds it financially easy to attend Worldcon. 

The Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF), inspired by the funds and initiatives that have come before, is here to facilitate bringing more people into our community. The CWCF is a special fund to help defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for the following groups of people: 

  • Non-white fans or program participants
  • LGBTQIA+ fans or program particpants
  • Local Chicago area fans of limited means

If you would like to learn more about the CWCF and how donations will be utilized, please head to our FAQ, below.

Apply for Assistance

Would you like to attend Chicon 8 but need assistance?

Apply for a pay-what-you-can memberships
Apply for financial assistance (do not fill out if you ONLY need a membership)

Applications are currently being processed on a first-come, first-served basis based on availability. As of August 25, we still have memberships available, but do NOT have any financial assistance fund to give. This may change if further donations are made, so feel free to apply and we will let you know if funds become available.

August 31 is the last day to apply for a membership or assistance.

Donate Money or Memberships

Making a financial gift in any amount to the Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF) makes a huge difference! No gift is too small because it all adds up. On behalf of Chicon 8, we thank you for your generous support of the CWCF.

Please use the buttons below to make a pre-defined or self-defined contribution of money to the fund. Donations are processed through Stripe, the same as our registration system uses. Chicon 8 does not see or retain your credit card information.

Do you have a membership you can no longer use? If circumstances have changed and you will no longer be able to attend, you may donate your membership to the Fund instead. Please email the fund administrators to get the donation process started.

Donations are processed through Stripe, the same as our registration system uses. Chicon 8 does not see or retain your credit card information.


How will funds from the CWCF be used?

Funds donated to the CWCF will be used to help defray the costs for applicants to the fund to attend Chicon 8. Applicants may use fund money to pay for membership fees, lodging costs, travel costs, or meals—whatever will help them most in being able to attend Chicon 8. 

Who can apply for the CWCF?

Individuals from the following groups can apply to the CWCF for assistance: 

  • Non-white fans or program participants: any individual who identifies as non-white from anywhere in the world. 
  • LGBTQIA+ fans or program participants: any individual who identifies as LGBTQIA+ from anywhere in the world. 
  • Chicago area fans of limited means: any individual who lives within a 120 mile radius of Chicago and has limited means may apply for the fund. 

Is my donation tax-deductible?

Yes! Chicon 8 is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. As such, your donation will be tax deductible. 

Can I get a tax receipt?

Yes! Any donation may receive a tax receipt. Please email your request for a receipt to

Will I be able to know exactly who my donation went to?

All funds given out by the CWCF will be confidential. We will provide general statistics and information about the awards given, but specific award information will not be made public. 

What if the CWCF has left-over money at the end of Chicon 8?

Any money leftover in the CWCF will be donated to a future Worldcon fund with similar purpose or to any other non-profit entity in fandom operating to help bring marginalized communities to Worldcon. 

Help! You didn’t answer my question…

If we didn’t answer your question here, please email us at for further assistance.