Request Assistance

Last updated October 4, 2017.

Con or Bust is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization that helps fans of color/non-white fans attend SFF cons. This page explains how to request assistance. (Check out the Upcoming Cons page or this Google Calendar to see what cons have donated memberships or for which other specific assistance is available.)

The Short Version

  • If you are a person of color/non-white person who wants to attend a convention about science fiction and fantasy, you can apply.
  • If the Upcoming Cons page says that there are memberships available immediately, first-come first-serve, then at any time you can use this Google Docs form to request ONLY a membership. (If you cannot use Google Docs, please use this backup form.)
  • To request monetary assistance or con memberships that are not immediately available, wait for one of Con or Bust’s four request periods (dates updated October 2017): February 1-10; May 1-10; August 1-10; and November 1-10 (based on US Eastern Time). During the request period, use this Google Docs form to request general assistance: money (please see the long version for details of allowable expenses), a donated membership, help finding a roommate. (If you cannot use Google Docs, please use this backup form.)
  • NEW August 2017: if you are asking for assistance paying for non-refundable plane tickets (or other non-refundable costs), you must purchase travel cancellation insurance. (Previously, it was only strongly recommended.)
  • By applying, you agree that your application statements are accurate and that if you are unable to attend the con, you will make all reasonable efforts to repay Con or Bust.

The Long Version

Who Can Request Assistance


  • you are a person of color/non-white person (I will sometimes use “fan of color” in the rest of this document, for convenience only);
  • and you want to go to a convention about science fiction and fantasy,

then you can request assistance.

(Unless you’re me or another member of the Con or Bust, Inc. Board of Directors. But if you are, then you already knew that.)

Con or Bust is not limited by geography or by type of con-goer. It is not a scholarship or “merit based.” Its goal is to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves. As long as you’re not requesting assistance with the intention of ignoring the con entirely, Con or Bust is for you.

If there isn’t enough money to meet all requests, then we make decisions with the goal of assisting as many people as possible. Thus, we give priority to: first-time con-goers; those who have been given monetary assistance [*] less often by Con or Bust; those who would be entirely unable to attend the con without assistance; those who have requested less assistance; and those whose cons are sooner.

[*] Receipt of a donated membership, by itself, will be considered only as a last-resort tie-breaker and thus should very rarely affect a person’s priority for assistance; this is to encourage people to accept donated memberships without fear that it will disqualify them from monetary assistance at another point.

Assistance is confidential. Generally speaking, the Board members are the only people who know you’ve requested assistance. The exceptions are:

  • We will, with your permission, disclose your identity if you consent to receiving a donated membership, either to the con or to the individual that made the donation. See below.
  • If you ask for help finding a roommate, and someone else who’s requested assistance has also asked for help for the same con, we will put you in touch with each other.
  • Though we hope this never is an issue, if you are found to have requested assistance in bad faith, Con or Bust may disclose that to protect the SFF community.

When to Request General Assistance

Con or Bust no longer requires that you request assistance within a certain time period before the con. However, if you are requesting assistance for a con some time in the future, you are strongly encouraged to pick a specific future time when you will actually need funds in hand, and wait until then to accept the funds. As of August 2017, you are also REQUIRED to purchase travel cancellation insurance if you will be using Con or Bust funds for nonrefundable expenses like plane tickets. See the next section for details.

Requests must be timestamped on or before 11:59 p.m. Eastern of the last day of the request period (the 10th of the month); I may or may not be awake to turn the form off.

How to Request General Assistance

During a request period, fill out this Google Docs form. The link will return an error message at other times. The form is only open during the limited request period because I need requests for assistance to be as up-to-date as possible.

If you have difficulty accessing the form, please use this backup form.


  1. Transferred memberships and roommate-finding assistance.

    Receiving help with either of these requires disclosing your identity (to the con, in the case of accepting a transferred membership, or to potential roommates), which is why you are asked about them separately.

  2. Allowed expenses.

    Any money Con or Bust does not spend in a given quarter is put back into the fund for subsequent quarters. Because funds can always be used to help others later, and because Con or Bust has recently received a wider range of requests, I am now specifying which expenses people may request assistance for. They are:

    • Travel cancellation insurance, which is MANDATORY if you will be using Con or Bust funds on non-refundable expenses. There’s lots of different kinds of travel insurance, but it’s only cancellation insurance that’s required. Here is some background information: a short article from Consumer Reports; USA Today on comparing plans; and’s Top 8 Travel Insurance Providers;
    • Con membership (not including add-ons for special events);
    • Travel;
    • Lodging; and/or,
    • Food.

    Put another way, Con or Bust will get you there, get you in, and keep you housed and fed while you’re there (and protect you if you end up needing to refund Con or Bust). So that Con or Bust can help as many people as possible, anything beyond that is up to you.

  3. Breakdown of expenses.

    It is VERY IMPORTANT that you be as accurate as possible in your request for assistance. Con or Bust only has so much money to allocate for each quarter. If you discover later that you need significantly more money to go to your con, I cannot help you.

    Thus, as the form asks, please give a detailed explanation of your expenses and how you know what they will be. For example:

    • “The cost of a membership is $X through A date.”
    • “As of today, the cost of a flight (including taxes and fees) is $X according to Expedia.”
    • “I need $X for a hotel because the room rate is $A, I will be there for B nights, the applicable tax is C%, and I will have one roommate.”
    • “I will be using Con or Bust funds to purchase a nonrefundable plane ticket; travel insurance to cover the cost of that ticket is $X.”

    I will add a small buffer for flight price changes when I’m doing the budget, but otherwise it is critical that you be as concrete and accurate as possible.

  4. When to send money.

    If you are applying for a con some time in the future, and will be using Con or Bust funds on at-con expenses like hotels, you are strongly encouraged to schedule receipt of your funds for closer to the con. This way, if something happens and you’re unable to attend the con, you don’t have to worry about refunding Con or Bust that money.

By applying, you agree that your application statements are accurate and that if you are unable to attend the con, you will make all reasonable efforts to repay Con or Bust.

What Happens After You Request General Assistance

You will get an automatic acknowledgment that your request has been received. If you do not get an acknowledgment, please re-submit or email

If I have questions, I will contact you; otherwise, expect to hear back from me approximately a week after the request period closes. Feel free to check in with updates or questions, and please watch your e-mail for something from If I have questions and can’t get in touch with you before it’s time to make decisions, I may have no choice but to deny your request.

Once the request period closes, we will determine if we can help everyone who’s requested assistance. If we can’t, we will give priority to first-time con-goers; people who have been assisted less often by Con or Bust; people who would be entirely unable to attend the con without assistance; people who have requested less assistance; and people whose cons are sooner.

I will contact you as soon as possible after the request period ends to tell you the status of your request, hopefully by the end of the month. You can either forward me confirmations as you make arrangements, or you can forward me receipts and the like for our files after the con.

How to Request and Receive ONLY A Donated Membership

Conventions or individuals sometimes donate memberships to Con or Bust. If these are not claimed during the general assistance-request period, they are usually made available on a first-come, first-served basis after the request period ends. Check the front page for any announcements or the Upcoming Cons page for a full list. If you see a con you’d like a donated membership to, use this Google Docs form to request it.

(If you’re also requesting general assistance to the same con, you don’t have to fill out this form too! Just make a note in the other form that you also would like a donated membership.)

As noted above, receiving a transferred membership requires disclosure of your identity. If the membership has been donated by the con, the con will need to know who to give the donated membership to. If the membership has been donated by an individual, it is often easier for last-minute transfers to be made from the individual donor to you, rather than asking the con to allow a transfer through Con or Bust or, possibly, attempting to transfer the membership to me as an individual and then to you. The form therefore asks if you’d like the individual donor to know your identity for a direct transfer, or if you want me to attempt another method.

If you have questions, you can put them at the end of the form or e-mail me at