Con Or Bust: Helping Fans of Color Attend SFF Cons

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Con or Bust: How to Request Assistance
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kate_nepveu wrote in con_or_bust

As of February 2013, Con or Bust is now located at You can find the current version of this page at

Con or Bust helps fans of color/non-white fans attend SFF cons. It is administered by me, Kate Nepveu, under the umbrella of the Carl Brandon Society. This post explains how to request assistance.

The Short Version

  • If you are a person of color/non-white person who wants to attend a convention about science fiction and fantasy, you can apply.
  • Con or Bust divides the calendar year into quarters, and takes requests for assistance to attend cons in each quarter for a ten-day period that starts six weeks before that quarter (illustrative calendar).
  • The request form is a Google Docs form. Fill it out as completely as possible, watch your e-mail for any questions, and expect to hear whether Con or Bust can assist you by a month before the quarter that your con is in.

(Yes, I'm making you read the long version to get the Google Docs link. However, if you have a problem accessing Google Docs, you can always e-mail me and I'll send you the questions by return e-mail.)

The Long Version

Who Can Request Assistance


  • you are a person of color/non-white person (I will sometimes use "fan of color" in the rest of this document, for convenience only);
  • and you want to go to a convention about science fiction and fantasy,

then you can request assistance.

(Unless you're me or a Carl Brandon Society Steering Committee member. But if you are, then you already knew that.)

Con or Bust is not limited by geography or by type of con-goer. It is not a scholarship or "merit based." Its goal is to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves. As long as you're not requesting assistance with the intention of ignoring the con entirely, Con or Bust is for you.

If there isn't enough money to meet all requests, then I make decisions with the goal of assisting as many people as possible. Thus, I give priority to: those who have been given monetary assistance [*] less often by Con or Bust; those who have been to cons generally, and the requested con specifically, less often; those who would be entirely unable to attend the con without assistance; and those who have requested less assistance.

[*] Receipt of a donated membership, by itself, will be considered only as a last-resort tie-breaker and thus should very rarely affect a person's priority for assistance; this is to encourage people to accept donated memberships to cons without fear that it will disqualify them from monetary assistance at another point.

Assistance is confidential. Generally speaking, I and the steering committee of the Carl Brandon Society are the only people who know you've requested assistance. The exceptions are:

  • I may, with your permission, disclose your identity to the con if you consent to receiving a donated membership. See below.
  • Though I hope this never is an issue, if you are found to have requested assistance in bad faith, Con or Bust may disclose that to protect the SFF community.

When to Request Assistance

Con or Bust takes requests for assistance four times a year. Specifically:

  • If a con's official first day is in January, February, or March, then you would request assistance during November 15-25.
  • If the official first day is in April, May, or June, then you would request assistance during February 15-25.
  • If the official first day is in July, August, or September, then you would request assistance during May 15-25.
  • If the official first day is in October, November, or December, then you would request assistance during August 15-25.

Note: Con or Bust uses the con's official first day to determine which request period it falls in, not the first day you plan to be there. Please be sure to check your dates.

You can also check this Google calendar for application periods and for cons that have supported Con or Bust by donating funds or memberships, or keep an eye on this community (if you have an LJ account: watch or track; if you don't: RSS feed) or the Carl Brandon Society's Twitter account for reminders.

How to Request Assistance

During the request period, fill out this Google Docs form (but please read the rest of this post first!). The link will return an error message at other times. The request period is to ensure that the requests for assistance are as up-to-date as possible.

If you have difficulty accessing the form, please e-mail me at

Two notes:

  1. Transferred memberships and roommate-finding assistance.

    Receiving help with either of these requires disclosing your identity (to the con, in the case of accepting a transferred membership, or to potential roommates), which is why you are asked about them separately.

  2. Breakdown of expenses.

    It is VERY IMPORTANT that you be as accurate as possible in your request for assistance. Con or Bust only has so much money to allocate for each three month period. If you discover later that you need significantly more money, I may be unable to help you.

    Thus, as the form asks, please give a detailed explanation of your expenses and how you know what they will be. For example:

    • "The cost of a membership is $X through A date."
    • "As of today, the cost of a flight (including taxes and fees) is $X according to Expedia."
    • "I need $X for a hotel because the room rate is $A, I will be there for B nights, the applicable tax is C%, and I will have one roommate."

    I will add a moderate buffer for flight price changes when I'm doing the budget, but otherwise it is critical that you be as concrete and accurate as possible.

What Happens After You Request Assistance

During the request period, I will contact you to confirm receipt and for any clarifications. Please watch your e-mail for something from If I have questions and can't get in touch with you before it's time to make decisions, I may have no choice but to deny your request.

Once the request period closes, I will determine if we can help everyone who's requested assistance. If we can't, I will give priority to people who have been assisted less often by Con or Bust; people who have been to cons less often generally; people who have been to the requested con less often; people who would be entirely unable to attend the con without assistance; and people who have requested less assistance.

I will contact you by the end of the month at the very latest. If Con or Bust is able to help you, I'll check that you're still wanting to go and ask you to formally reconfirm your eligibility and the accuracy of your request for assistance. Then we'll send you the assistance!

This procedure is designed to allow a minimum of one month between my making a decision and the start of a con. If you fill out the form completely and keep an eye on your e-mail, it should take very little time for me to make decisions and for you to receive your assistance.

Finally, after you've made your arrangements, I'll ask you to forward me receipts and the like for our files.

If you have questions, you can put them at the end of the Google Docs form or e-mail me at (please put "Con or Bust" in the subject).

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