About Con or Bust

General Information

Con or Bust helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions (how to request assistance; upcoming cons). It is administered by Kate Nepveu as a project of the Carl Brandon Society, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited by geography, type of con-goer, or con; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves.

Con or Bust is funded through donations and an online auction held annually. One hundred percent of all donations to Con or Bust are provided directly to fans of color to help then go to SFF cons; all administrative expenses are donated by Kate Nepveu or the Carl Brandon Society, and everyone working on Con or Bust volunteers their time. (In addition, Kate volunteers in her own capacity, and not on behalf of her employer or anyone else.)

Learn more about supporting Con or Bust.


Con or Bust began as a response to RaceFail ’09, when people of color expressed the desire to help each other attend WisCon (a prominent feminist SFF convention). We ran an auction and took donations, and through the generosity, hard work, and good will of a lot of people, raised enough money to help nine fans of color attend WisCon (2009 final report). Subsequently, the Carl Brandon Society agreed to take over the financial management of Con or Bust, allowing it to become an ongoing project.

In 2010, we raised $6,183.89 and helped thirteen people attend WisCon. In early 2011, we raised $10,591.95 and helped sixteen people attend WisCon.

After the 2011 auction, Con or Bust expanded to help people attend the SFF cons of their own choice. From July 2011 through the first quarter of 2012, we helped nine people attend various cons.

During the 2012 calendar year, Con or Bust raised $11,660.33, including $10,420.33 from its auction. These funds, together with memberships and/or accommodations donated by cons, were used during from April 2012 through March 2013 to help 25 different people attend cons 28 times. People attended thirteen different cons. The monetary portion of Con or Bust’s assistance ranged from $0 (membership transfers only) to $1,000. Twelve awards were in the range of approximately $200-350, and seven were from $400-550. At the end of this period, Con or Bust carried forward a balance of approximately $360.

At the start of 2013, Con or Bust moved to its present home here at con-or-bust.org. The 2013 auction raised about $10,000. Then, in June 2013, thanks to an impromptu matching donations drive, another $3,600 was received.

From April 2013 through March 2014, Con or Bust helped 30 different people attend cons 32 times. People attended seventeen different cons. The monetary portion of Con or Bust’s awards again ranged from $0 (membership transfers only) to $1,000. Eleven awards were in the range of $200-450, and seven were from $500-700. At the end of this period, Con or Bust carried forward a balance of approximately $7,700.

The 2014 auction and associated matching challenge raised $16,476. These funds, together with the balance from the prior year, funded assistance for March 2014 through early May 2015. In addition, starting from April 2014, Con or Bust permitted people to request monetary assistance for any upcoming SFF con, not merely cons in the next quarter.

From March 2014 through early May 2015, Con or Bust provided assistance 95 times to help 85 different people attend 25 different cons. Of those 95 times, 41 did not include monetary assistance, only donated memberships (or, in one case, a hotel room donated by a convention). Monetary assistance was provided 54 times, sometimes in conjunction with donated memberships. The awards ranged from $25 to $2,300; 34 of the 54 awards were $500 or less. At the close of this period, Con or Bust carried forward a balance of $67.42.

The 2015 auction was held later in the calendar year than previously, ending in early May; bids and donations raised $12,726 to support Con or Bust for the next twelve months.

In August 2015, a donation drive by John Scalzi raised a total of $11,840.92.


Con or Bust’s logo is a dinocorn, designed and donated by an anonymous artist. In 2009, some fans of color sarcastically adopted the label to refer to their supposedly-mythological existence. Also, dinocorns are awesome. (And on purchasable T-shirts.)

Last updated October 30, 2015.