The Cutlery Drawer money drawer

In this blog entry, I’m going to talk a little bit about how the financial side of things here. It’s really important to me that The Cutlery Drawer is transparent and accountable in terms of how we operate, so I’d like to open the door on how the money gets managed. If anyone has ideas or suggestions for how we can do them even better, then please get in touch!

1. All initial monetary outlay comes from my own pocket (or, in small amounts, that of other volunteers) – there is currently no ‘Cutlery Drawer money drawer’ where we keep surplus funds between events. This outlay usually includes a payment or deposit for venue hire and the costs of flyer printing, and can include hire of equipment or security staff. For the first Moulin Rage, it also included things like getting a good quality secure cashbox, and there are likely to be other one-time purchases of a similar nature. I record all outlay in a spreadsheet, and when the money from the fundraiser comes in, I take back exactly how much I put out (and reimburse any volunteers too).

2. Performers, organisers, and volunteers usually pay for their own food and travel, and sleep on floors and sofas rather than in hotels or B&Bs. The Cutlery Drawer has a policy of offering ‘enabling funds’ to performers (and volunteers with skills necessary to make the night work) – essentially meaning ‘if you need the money, please have it’. Usually, transport expenses are taken up only by performers who travel a very long distance and/or needed to transport instruments and equipment, and so far we’ve never needed to find paid accomodation thanks to kind friends with space in their houses (although paid accomodation is of course a possibility if performers need it for whatever reason). In any case, everyone works for expenses-only or less: as such, I am inexpressibly grateful to all the incredible people who donate their time and talents to The Cutlery Drawer in this way.

So. This is very much a labour of love, done by volunteers in the time we make for it and with the money we can spare for it. It’s not always easy to get the balance right – the long gap between the Gendered Intelligence holiday fundraiser and Moulin Rage II was not what I’d planned, but the demands of my life in a new city with a new degree to complete meant that scouting local venues took a backseat for a while. Now, having two events a month apart in the run-up to handing-in the final third of my degree isn’t ideal either! But I’m trying very hard to keep The Cutlery Drawer ticking over, and I’m exceptionally grateful to the people who have been stepping in – I’m thinking particularly of Alex here, without whom Moulin Rage II would certainly not have taken place. A separate and appropriately grateful blog post about this is probably forthcoming.

Back on the topic of finances – one thing that Cutlery Drawer followers might have noticed is the fluctuating prices of events. Entry for Moulin Rage was £6/£4; Political: A Gender was £7/£5; the GI Holiday Party was the most expensive at £8/£6. With Moulin Rage, as a completely new venture the biggest priority was making it financially accessible to as many people as possible. We charged more for P:AG because the venue deposit was higher and it was a considerably more ambitious event in terms of scale. As for the GI Holiday Party, it was another very large-scale event (the bar and catering was all volunteer-run, as was the art auction) and the price was set on the advice of GI. With Moulin Rage II, we tried a new tack – slightly cheaper tickets online (£6/£4) than on the door (£7/£5) to encourage more advance purchases, because online pre-bought tickets are a wonderful way of reducing our stress and faff on the night. As one attendee pointed out, however, with the 50p online booking charge it only saves the buyer 50p, while being a whole £1 less for the cause. So for the next event, we’ve gone back to basics and the £6/£4 structure, and will see how that goes now it’s a year later and The Cutlery Drawer has more of an established audience.

As you can hopefully see, working out the best entry price is an ongoing experimental process. I like the idea of having cheaper online tickets, but the booking fee makes the £1 difference useless (or even actively unhelpful) – one idea that might work for future events is pair/group discounts when bought online, rather than instituting a greater gap between online and door prices. I really want to strike a balance between keeping the events financially accessible, and raising a significant amount for the causes. As ever, suggestions are welcome!

One thing I’ve been pondering recently is, in fact, the creation of a ‘Cutlery Drawer money drawer’ – something that, rather than taking money out of a particular fundraiser’s total, exists to fund further one-off purchases: rubber hand stamps, maybe another cash box or two, spare tech equipment for emergencies, proper badges (or even t-shirts!) for volunteers…  Alex also informs me there have been requests for a DVD of Moulin Rage Cambridge – if such a thing went ahead, producing them would most likely require some form of monetary outlay from me. Would the money from such DVDs go straight to the LGBT+ Library (my immediate thought), or would it fund The Cutlery Drawer itself (something that occurs to me as I write this)? Or would it be best to split the profit somehow?

I hope this has been a useful insight into how we run things, and where we might go next – transparency is important, and so too is opening ourselves up for comment and suggestions. Is this how you’d run a fundraiser? Is there a better way we can keep records of everything? Is getting together some Cutlery Drawer-specific funds a good idea, or is it best to keep doing the outlay myself? As always, suggestions are welcome!

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