People often ask me about how we make our money at TEDxBristol, what we spend it on, and sometimes why the ticket prices can’t be a bit cheaper?! It’s an important question to ask of an organisation which is all about ideas exchange, particularly when it comes to including all types of people in the conversations we curate and the content and events that we produce.
So here’s the inside track on how we operate, what makes TEDxBristol tick, and how you can get involved in all aspects of our work.
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR MONEY THEN?
TEDxBristol is non-profit organisation, licenced by TED.com. All the money raised in ticket sales goes back into making the event the best it can be.
TEDxBristol is bound by the TED.com fundraising rules which include the fact that we can only raise money through either ticket sales or sponsorship. Since 2017 we have raised over £350k in value in kind from local businesses, and so the ticket price plus cash sponsorship allows us to spend on the ground and put on a high quality event that shares Bristol’s best ideas with the world. We need to raise about £100k each event to break-even. We get some fantastic deals as a non-profit from our venues, audio-visual suppliers and caterers, but it does all add up!
People are often surprised to learn that we don’t receive any money from TED.com, and that we are predominantly run by a bunch of part time volunteers. We pay a few very part-time roles for things like marketing and social media content, which require professional experience and quick response times, which is hard for volunteers to do.
We also spend money on things like ensuring we are environmentally responsible - this year the goal is “Waste Nothing”. And as well as producing the live talks, we curate a range of activities away from the stage so that people can make connections and access educational workshops and experiences on the day. This year look out for things like our Wellness Hub, live music performances and a tech career workshops!
The average one-day conference cost is usually over £100 so this year we have tried hard to come in under this bracket (full day/eve is £96), and also to allow options for people to book onto individual sessions (morning, afternoon or eve) for £35.
This year we took into account a huge amount of feedback re accessibility and affordability for everyone and that’s why we are running on a weekend day and have made the options of attending a session of 5 or 6 talks for £35 available. This works out as £7 or less per talk which is great value considering most guest speaker events would be a minimum of £15 or £20 for one or two speakers. But for those who can’t afford this ticket price, there are options for local organisations to nominate people to attend for free via our Community in Partnership scheme - see info below.
DO YOU PAY YOUR SPEAKERS?
One of the TED.com rules is that we can’t pay speakers. However the experience and value they receive from taking part is unique and helps them develop their ideas, skills and opportunities in all kinds of ways.
Central to our mission at TEDxBristol is to give a platform to a diverse range of people and perspectives, particularly those who don’t already have a big voice in society. The TED platform is all about ‘spreading ideas worth sharing’ - and quite often the best ideas and stories are hidden or don’t reach mainstream press.
As a result we deliberately commission talks from people who don’t have much public speaking experience and who are from under-represented backgrounds. In a way we have made our job a bit harder but the results have been transformational.
TEDxBristol speakers have gone on to be offered book deals, TV contracts and global influencer roles as a result of people seeing their TEDx talk.
Through the process speakers receive extensive and unique mentoring /training from our speaker coaches delivered over several months, and a really high-end, professionally produced film of their talk, which is uploaded to the TEDx YouTube channel with its 21 million + subscribers.
Since taking on running TEDxBristol, I’ve met hundreds of people from different walks of life who are doing brilliant things in their communities, quiet heroes really, and can’t wait to share more of their stories with the world!
We decided to run the extensive coaching scheme rather than book professional speakers so that we can nurture new talent and tell stories from people who don’t already have a platform or much public speaking experience. We’ll be opening applications again in early 2020, so keen an eye on our social channels for more details, and feel free to nominate or pass on this link to anyone who you think has a unique story to tell or idea to share.
HOW DO YOU MAKE TEDXBRISTOL INCLUSIVE AND ACCESSIBLE FOR MEMBERS OF SOCIETY?
Diversity, inclusion, accessibility and affordability are front and centre of our activities at TEDxBristol both on and off stage.
Through our Community in Partnership scheme which we launched in 2017, we were able to give away 260 free places to people from grass roots community groups, inner city schools and under-represented backgrounds. We worked with organisations like Knowle West Media Centre, Babbasa Hub, Borderlands and Diverse Insights to get this part of our program right and reach all types of people who may not be able to afford to attend our event.
This year’s TEDxBristol is in a slightly smaller venue than in 2017 but we plan to give 150 free seats to people from across the city and always welcome suggestions of groups and connectors we could work with to make this as radically inclusive a process as possible. Follow this link if you would like to apply on behalf of a local organisation for members of your group to attend under the Community in Partnership scheme.
We’re also always on the look out for volunteers who can join the team, gain live production skills and experience, and of course enjoy the buzz of the live event.
You don’t need any particular experience to be a TEDxBristol volunteer, above anything else, the thing we’re looking for most is passion and enthusiasm.
There’s still spaces available on our live event team this year, and we especially need people to help with creating social media content, so check out our webpage on volunteering and apply via the website if you’d like to jump aboard!
Looking forward to seeing you at Bristol Old Vic on 17 November 2019, to Reflect Rethink and Reboot!