One of the most frequent questions we receive is “Where does the money go?”

Our current team can only speak to the finances and goals of our 2018 and future swaps, however, we keep in mind the vision of the original swap founders when making decisions. We appreciate the grace and trust you’ve given us to figure out our processes and establish our needs and methods.

First and foremost, what you must know, is that running the swap is expensive! Many costs need to be paid up front, including space rentals, flyers and handouts, supplies like hangers, garbage bags, markers, racks, mirrors, and more. Paying out of pocket for these items can put a financial burden on the organizers. After our current team put on the first swap in January 2018, we realized we needed a more sustainable model. We needed to raise funds—and thus, the Inbetweenie Super Swap was born.

How does the Inbetweenie Super Swap help raise money?

The Inbetweenie Super Swap incurs much lower costs because it uses a lot of the same materials (hangers, racks, tables, etc) as the Big Fat Super Swap, allowing us to lower the overall cost by reusing materials and save money renting a smaller space (as of right now). The net gain from the Inbetweenie Super Swap has allowed us to raise funds for both swaps using clothes size 18 and below that we otherwise would have donated elsewhere, therefore  enabling us to expand the Big Fat Super Swap to a larger space. Essentially, we were able to use the first Inbetweenie Super Swap to kick start the ability to pay ahead! It was such a huge success and a win for everyone.

How is the money used from both swaps?

Funds collected from both swaps are pooled together and used in three ways: to fund space needs for upcoming swaps, to improve the swap overall, and (this one is new!) to procure more 4XL+ clothing.

First, we set the money aside needed for the next swap. As it stands, after both of the 2018 Fall swaps, this is about 1/3 of the total money raised—this stays banked until we need to pay deposits for the Spring swaps.

Second, we need money to improve the swap. We’ve been so lucky to have been passed down some racks and hangers from the swap founders and Cake Plus-Size Resale has been so kind as to allow us to borrow extra racks, a couple mirrors, and a pop-up changing room. But if you’ve been to the last couple swaps, you may have noticed some of our racks aren’t in great shape, and we only have 2–3 small mirrors. Additionally, we go through A LOT of hangers. As of the Fall 2018 swap, about 1/3 of the money we have is being used to replace items or improve swap conditions, both for attendees and volunteers. We’re working on buying new racks, more mirrors, better and reusable signage, as well as the ever needed more hangers and changing tents. We have additionally started adding provisions in the budget to give the lovely volunteers a needed lunch break with food provided by the swap. If you’ve ever volunteered with us, you know it’s truly a labor of love but lunch certainly does make it easier on everyone!

Lastly, we’re now working to use any money left after paying for our swap needs to purchase needed clothes. This is new for us! We knew that we needed to use any extra money wisely and to benefit the swap’s patrons to the fullest. Until the Fall 2018 swaps, we didn’t have extra funds and filling in clothing gaps had been an oft talked about pipe dream of ours. The core mission of the swap is to decrease clothing scarcity in higher sizes and not getting enough donations in those sizes makes it hard for us to fully fulfill our mission.

Another way we’ve been able to help support that goal has been through developing the Super Coat Fund. Last year, the swap was able to donate $450 to our new Super Coat Fund in the winter of 2018! (This was in addition to the $200 raised in donations at the Fall swaps). We were able to buy 11 coats for plus size folks in need—and then 9 more thanks to Cake’s Small Business Saturday (where a portion of sales were donated to the Super Coat fund)! Most of the coats purchased for those in need were sizes 3X and above, which is not a common size donated to most winter clothing drives. The Super Coat Fund is near and dear to our Minnesotan hearts, but that’s for a different blog post!

We intend to use any leftover money from the Spring and Summer swaps to fill in gaps in much-needed 5X+ clothing and masculine styles. One of our largest problems, and one that we don’t have any control over, is the amount and quality of donations we receive in higher size items. To fulfill the core mission of the swap, we’ll be supplementing donations with purchased items as we’re able. We will be acquiring these items by shopping sales, couponing, and thrifting to the best of our ability—specifically in 5X+ and masculine styles. As of right now, we intend to use the leftover funds from the Fall swaps for the Super Coat Fund (like we did this past year).

If you have extra money, why do you still charge entrance for the swaps? Why aren’t they free?

Both swaps have a suggested entrance fee, however, if you’re unable to pay you don’t have to. Both swaps will continue to remain a sliding scale/pay-what-you-can entrance fee starting at $0 for as long as we’re able to cover our costs. Rather than lowering the cost further (currently the entrance fee for the Inbetweenie Super Swap has been a suggested $10 donation, and the Big Fat Super Swap is $5 suggested donation), we’ve chosen to keep both suggested donations in place to reduce the risk of being unable to cover our costs and to increase the funds we have to fill in clothing gaps. We encourage you, if you’re able, to pay what you feel is appropriate. If you’re unable to pay at all, we love and appreciate you just as much and we’re so happy to give you access to clothes.

Why does the Inbetweenie Super Swap cost more?

It’s undeniable that clothing becomes less available and less affordable as the sizes increase. A founding mission of the swap is to combat clothing scarcity for fat people. To that end, a major goal of the Inbetweenie Swap is to help offset expenses for the Big Fat Super Swap. Clothing is simply more available in sizes L–XXL than it is in sizes 2XL and above (especially over 4XL). Inbetweenies paying more to participate in Swaps is one small way they can help pay it forward to folks on the larger ends of the size spectrum.

The Big Fat Super Swap collects other donations when folks exit the swap—what’s that all about?

In an effort to pay-it-forward and share the love to others in the community doing work that (at least in some part) make life better for fat people, we have an opportunity for folks to donate when they exit (separate from the suggested admission donation).

This is, of course, totally optional! Often, folks leave the swap with clothing that values 10–100x what they paid as a donation to enter the swap. Many let us know they felt like they wanted to give more or pay-it-forward somehow! Well, this is how! Feel free to donate to organizations on your way out of the swap. We usually have 5 collection jars at each swap. If you’d like to suggest an organization for us to collect for, please share that info over email (bigfatsuperswap@gmail.com) and be sure to include how they benefit the fat community!  

Does anyone profit from the swaps? How are the organizers and volunteers compensated?

No one profits from the swap. All surplus money from the swap is put back into the swap or related projects like the Super Coat Fund. The organizers are compensated through the swap with meals during meetings. Volunteers have been treated to snacks and refreshments during the swaps and we will be expanding this to a lunch for volunteers. Both volunteers and organizers also get first access to swap clothing. People delivering coats for the Super Coat Fund are also compensated for gas usage.

Are you an official non-profit organization or 501©3?

As of right now, we are not. However, this is something we are exploring! We aim for continued transparency on how swap funds are used regardless of our status. We do not profit from the swaps and consider ourselves an organization (not a business as no one profits from the swaps).

Thank you for your interest in getting to know the swap! If you have any more questions or concerns we did not address, please reach out to us at bigfatsuperswap@gmail.com

One thought on “Super Swap, Small Budget

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