Why does this make me uneasy? Actually, maybe uneasy isn't the precise word -- maybe I feel bad, or sorry, or something like that. Maybe it's because I know Chris Boshuizen is asking his friends -- past SGAC folks: the names on that list -- to donate to SGAC, which in turn goes to pay his own salary. $_Jessy + $_Robbie + $_Mark + $_Julia ~= MonthSalary_Chris. And I hope that the mystery donation isn't like the last mystery donation we received in SGAC, which was something that we are expected to pay back; sounds more like a loan than a donation.
I wouldn't want to be in his position, certainly -- effectively asking my friends to donate money for my salary. It would feel weird. If you ask me, having a paid executive director might be better suited for a foundation that is built for taking money and turning it around to pay for overhead costs. SGAC isn't the right format for that. (This is why I enjoy working on the seds.org server, adding information to the wiki, advising students, etc. -- I don't get paid for it. In fact, I can't get paid for it, and that's the way I like it. Thus my hobby is only a burden on myself... and maybe Ryan McLinko of SEDS-USA who deals with a lot of my emails.)
Mo' money: how much does the Space Generation Congress cost? 305 euros for students and 370 euros for non-students. How much does the similarly-timed and -placed SEDS International Conference cost? (sorry, you have to open a .pdf brochure to verify) INR 500 for Indian students, INR 750 for foreign students, INR 1500 for Indian non-students, and INR 2000 for foreign non-students.
|Student (euros)||305 euros||9.23 euros (Indian)
13.85 euros (Foreign)
|Non-student (euros)||370 euros||27.69 euros (Indian)
36.92 euros (Foreign)
|Student (INR)||INR 16,525||INR 500 (Indian)
INR 750 (Foreign)
|Non-student (INR)||INR 20,046||INR 1500 (Indian)
INR 2000 (Foreign)
Conversions done via xe.com.
Now, the exception: if you pay after today (and there is probably some leeway with this -- SGAC is not evil), the prices change to 355 euros for students and 420 euros for non-students.
|Student (euros)||355 euros||9.23 euros (Indian)
13.85 euros (Foreign)
|Non-student (euros)||420 euros||27.69 euros (Indian)
36.92 euros (Foreign)
|Student (INR)||INR 19,235||INR 500 (Indian)
INR 750 (Foreign)
|Non-student (INR)||INR 22,757||INR 1500 (Indian)
INR 2000 (Foreign)
Also, I have a suspicion that Rs. 16,000 is a lot more for an Indian than, say, someone from the US or Western Europe. That might mean pricing out the local population, which isn't a good play because for us foreigners, it costs quite a lot to even get to India -- between $1200 and $1500 from DC. (Not to mention the unintentional disrespect: no Indian keynote speakers) We'll see what happens. Best of luck to the SGC organizers -- I think they'll do something good -- but I won't be there to see it; instead of paying 370 euros/$495 (!), I'll be down in Vellore with the SEDSIC people, helping.
September will be a judgment call for SGAC. They've signed up for their SGC venue, throwing in their bet for this game. They've tied their organizational debts/expenses to the SGC costs... at least I hope so, how else could it cost 370 euros for a three-day young professional and student conference? The five-day International Astronautical Congress -- the larger conference that SGC tags along with -- costs 250 euros for young professionals and 100 euros for students.
Rs. 16000 for an Indian student is double of what he pays for a science undergraduate course every year.
We don't even buy original Windows which come for 1000 bucks...
I was even afraid of Rs. 500 for SEDSIC...
You do bring up some good points, which deserve some answer.??
The goal of having a paid office has been floated around the Executive Council for several years, and the basic premise underlying this is simple. With paid staff, SGAC can avoid the pitfalls of a purely volunteer organisation, some of the common ones being lulls in activity, inactive forums, rapid changes in project leaders, and so on. Paid staff can keep things going, inject energy where needed, spend time making the phone calls that need happen, put in the hours to finish things for deadlines, and much much more. Without that, a volunteer project leader with one overdue term paper can kill a project. As an example, without constant supervision, this year's 50 year visions for space exploration would not have happened, of which I am absolutely certain. If it had not happened, we would not have found new supporters at the Boston Symposium, would not have obtained our recent large sponsorship, would not have been applauded at the UN COPUOS meeting in June, and would not have been invited to the Asian Ministerial Conference in October. In short, this could have been a year with only mediocre representation and no substantial output. If you have continuing doubts about this, or questions about how paid staff (Agnieszka, myself and others in the future) can and are making SGAC into the powerful, connected organisation it should be, I invite you discuss it further with the Council. I'm happy for it to be an open conversation like this, or in private, as it suits you.
Regarding the use of our current donations, I hope you haven't forgotten we have other obligations, such as our office in Vienna. The personal donations you mention above have provided timely support for primarily this need. And, as you know, we will be kicking off our inaugural donation campaign soon in which we will ask all alumni and friends to support us, and I am grateful to these first people for committing the first encouraging donations. For all future solicitations, the use of funds will always be clearly elucidated, and it is my sincere hopes that our alumni, friends and supporters continue to share our vision and support us.
Regarding Space Generation Congress costs, you are welcome to see the budget. You need only ask. IAC is cheaper for students, because it is highly subsidized. As Jim Zimmerman explained to me in 2005, money is lost on all student registrations, with the FULL PRICE participants carrying the entirety of the congress expenses. If you want to compare apples with apples, let's compare the full prices of each event. ;The full fee for IAC after 18 September (and yes, they have a early/regular rate as well) is 775 Euro. That is 155 Euro per day. SGC's FULL PRICE, the most expensive rate, is the full professional fee of 420 Euro, which works out to 140 Euros per person per day. SGC is by no means outside the normal price range for such events. Not only is SGC cheaper than IAC, but to my mind, and that of many of our attendees, it is even better value for a young professional.
Oh, and why do we have a reduced fee until September? Simply to encourage people to pay early, thereby allowing the final number of delegates to stabilize quickly and thereby reduce risk. This is standard practice for most events. We have also invited Indian key note speakers, but simply do not have any of them confirmed yet. If you have any ideas for others we can invite, please let the congress manager know, as we'd love to have some.
I want to finish on personal note. For me, working at a volunteer level a few hours a week is not enough. I am so committed to the Space Generation and to realising the goals we have that I want to work full time. The necessities of life mean that some kind of salary is needed, but if I (and my successors) put in the time to raise the money to cover that, and as a result SGAC can grow and achieve more, I think that all parties involved will have benefited. Being able to do what you love full time, without distraction, is a truly powerful and enriching experience. I encourage everyone to find a way do to the same. Why work 70% of the time in an unsatisfactory position just to earn money to feed yourself, leaving only 30% of your time for the things that really matter. Instead, find someone who shares your dream, put their available resources together with your passion, drive and determination, and make a truly impactful difference to the world. You can do it, and if your intentions are good, you will find help all around you.
Space Generation Advisory Council