[Global_conference_committee] [Global_chapter_committee] [Global_membership_committee] Conference/Chapter Revenue Splitting

James Wickett wickett at gmail.com
Wed Dec 22 09:10:03 EST 2010

I thought I would add to this discussion.  I apologize that I haven't
written sooner but with Christmas things have been busy.

To introduce myself, I am the Austin Chapter Vice President (since Jan 2010)
and I served as the chapter leader/president for 2.5 years previously.  Josh
Sokol, the current Austin President, and I were the co-chairs for the
Lonestar Application Security Conference (LASCON).  We feel that for our
first year as a conference it was a huge success.  We had top-class speakers
(http://lascon.org), 170 attendees and 13 sponsors.   The total revenue from
the conference was $26,986.00 and we also had $4,650 in new OWASP

Let me start by saying that we did not have the conference to make money as
a primary goal.  Our primary goal was to have a security conference in
Austin, TX and to bring the Texas chapters together to engage the dev and
infosec communities regionally.  However, one of our secondary goals was to
bring in new money for the Austin chapter to bring in speakers, bootstrap
LASCON 2011, and potentially have scholarships for Austin members to travel
to other OWASP chapters/events.

The reason why I am writing this is because I think it might be helpful to
know what is going on in the mind of a conference planner.  When planning
LASCON, our thinking was that the money raised from the memberships would be
treated like all memberships with a 60/40 split.  We worked hard tracking
down which chapter people were coming from (Houston, San Antonio, Austin,
Dallas) and our hope was to "give" the respective new memberships to each
chapter.  That way each chapter would receive new members and the funds that
go along with that.  Splitting the memberships revenue from the conference
60/40 seems fair.

One of the points on the the previous emails was to the effect of, why does
a chapter need funds at all?  No reasonable request is rejected from OWASP
(the mothership), so why cant they just ask when they need money?  I can
say, that the chapters do need funds and would use them if they thought they
were theirs.  Up to this point, we haven't asked for money from the
mothership because we felt that we would be a drain on resources.  Sort of
like asking your parents for money...  However, with the funds from LASCON,
we would feel more free to bring in speakers, help Austin leaders go to
OWASP conferences and maybe have a training event.  Having our own money for
the chapter helps us to decide what we really want to do since we have a
limited amount and we should use it wisely.

The last thing I want to mention is entrepreneurship.  One of the best ways
to encourage people to act in an entrepreneur fashion is to give them clear
rewards and flexibility to innovate.  LASCON was brand new in 2010.  It was
a completely new revenue source for OWASP.  However, it didn't come without
a risk.  OWASP knew that if we couldn't get sponsors or attendees then they
would be footing the bill.  To this end, I think that that the risk to OWASP
paid off.  Because both OWASP and LASCON planners shared the risk of the
conference, then they should also share the profits.  We need to be an
organization that continues to empower people to hold events that bring in
money for OWASP national.

My recommendation is to split the profit from all conferences 60/40 just
like memberships.  Perhaps having a cap to limit total amount to the chapter
makes sense especially for the bigger conferences.

Lastly, you are all invited to LASCON 2011.  We would love to have you down
to Austin for the best security conference in Texas.


J. H. Wickett, CISSP, GCFW
Twitter: @wickett
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