This year, we gathered about $15,000.00 and barely broke even. It is expensive, but well worth it. We received some help through sponsors, but most through registration and personal donations through selling handmade items, etc. The bulk of the expense was through airfare and rooms - beyond what the hotel charges for just the conference space - which is minimal compared to paying for rooms. We will put out an income and expense report soon on the websites.
This is not actually a lot of money when it comes to putting on events of this type. I believe that if I had spent more time applying for grants and fundraising rather than jumping right into planning the next conference last year, the whole thing would have been easier and much less stressful to go into it with the money ahead of time.
Arranging the event venue needs to be done early in order to hold a space - so, that puts us in a bind. And, underestimating the work - thinking that a year is enough to get everything done is a mistake - I have discovered twice.
Our conferences are amazing because we do help so many and cut the price of attendance so that more can have the ability to come. But, then we don't have an idea of exactly how many - so plan for up to 500 - which this year - if we could have had time, we would have filled the extra 300 seats for free just to help others experience it all.
I would have thought that with the stellar line-up of speakers, presenters, and entertainment - the event would have sold out within a few weeks. If that had happened, we would have met our budget and the TopDD studies would have benefited by thousands of dollars. In one of Colin Ross' presentations, which I will be putting up soon, he explains why conferences on the topic of Dissociative Disorders are no longer well-attended.
I don't quite understand, because I totally believe that providing education on the topic for everyone is the answer to folks being aware of the effects of trauma and the truth that survivors 'are' strong and able - that clinicians 'can' help those who struggle - that all survivors and clinicians can be on the same page rather than questioning whether child abuse exists, whether DID is a 'valid' dx - etc. And, mostly that within an environment of education and acknowledgment - all can 'see' that there is no competition between groups or researchers or clinicians - everyone volunteers their time and expertise - not all may agree or run out and make changes or accept the current challenges of treating or supporting survivors.
I have difficulty wondering why some decide to continue to run from this sort of opportunity rather than face it straight on - giving themselves a chance to decide on their own whether the information is something that will benefit them or others.
I am aware that there were clinicians as well as survivors who did spread negative notions throughout their groups and lists about the benefit of attending this conference. And, also there were those who simply didn't hear about it in time to go this year. I wonder about the intentions of those who try to sabotage such a wonderful event. Clearly, our intentions are as we say - to help educate everyone providing informative workshops and presentation by most renowned of experts who volunteer asking nothing for themselves.
That was a long answer to a seemingly simple question - I know.
It is complicated, however.
We are a very small organization with a powerfully intelligent board of directors. Last year, we innocently planned and successfully had our first conference. And, it was the speakers, attendees, and everyone who pulled together to help that were responsible for that.
This year, we went into planning without the funds that we had last year from donations. We had thought that more folks would jump in to help this year realizing that the success of the conference benefited all survivors and clinicians moving forward in research, education, and healing.
The most difficult challenge, as I mentioned, was that I did not give us time to fund raise and ask for grants, because I was planning the conference. My education and expertise is such that I able to write grants, research, and look to those who share my passion in supporting survivors of abuse. But, there simply wasn't the time.
Our board of directors are now, with the permission to make some of the presentation public, examining where and how we can best move forward from here. The conference was an overwhelming success within all aspects of the professional and survivor world. People literally came from everywhere to enjoy the conference and have gone home to spread the word of their positive experience. The Ivory Garden online forum has become more active than ever giving survivors a place where they are able to be safe and receive support and encouragement from peers that is not available elsewhere.
Survivors are strong and intelligent. Clinicians 'want' to learn new ways to understand and diagnose dissociation and trauma. More than ever, people are on board to support our purpose - and work together to bring about changes and accept challenges. But, none of us have the funds to financially support these type conferences - which create such benefit.
We are a nonprofit, charitable organization. We put on this conference to benefit TOPDD studies, because their research is imperative to bringing about changes in understanding of dissociative disorders. They are also underfunded. The ISST-D puts on annual conferences also - and, they are underfunded. Research in other fields of mental health are well-funded - overly-funded in my experience - I am talking in the millions of dollars. I think that public awareness of the need for funding in the area of trauma is the answer - especially in research.
We have a few ideas. We are thinking that having one day fundraisers - with the same caliber speakers as the 3 day fundraiser we just completed will be helpful and bring in funds. We have looked at having these around the country so that everyone can come without having the expense of flying and hotel rooms. With the funds from the one-day fundraisers, we might be able to again do the Seattle 3 day conference without struggling financially. But, I doubt that we can raise the funds to do it by October this year. We simply don't have the time needed.
We will begin a fundraiser online that will demonstrate that our Seattle event is actually a 'project' to bring about awareness and education that benefits everyone.
We are excited that more nonprofit organizations are popping up everywhere to bring about education and awareness of trauma related disorders offering more and differing programs. As I have noticed, the needs are overwhelming - and, the expenses of what everyone does is being funded by small donations and lots and lots of work being done by volunteers - putting aside their time without asking for anything in return. This is all being done to help survivors of abuse and trauma get the treatment they have always deserved.
I have also noticed that 'doing' so much in the field of trauma and dissociation seems to leave everyone so busy working on their own - few are working together and few have the time to really put in the work it takes to do the fund raising needed to carry out their purpose. We also don't have the information shared of who is doing what where. I learned at the conference that the ISST-D is working to educate clinicians. I wasn't even aware of this fantastic program. I also learned about the many studies that the TOPDD is doing - I had no idea the amount of work they do with such little funding.
The conference brought much to light for me and other attendees - I think. Mostly, that so many are working so hard for survivors and clinicians without asking anything in return - it amazes me. And, so many offering to help - the organization of all of these offers is one thing that needs to be looked into - do we keep clinicians and survivors separated or do we decide to work together with one common goal?
What helps us the most? Attendance and promotion is how we are able to fund them. The ISST-D conference is a professional nonprofit organization that puts on an amazing conference. They rely on attendance also. If these type conferences are unable to afford to continue, one of the most valuable of resources also ends within time.
Several years ago, we all worked together to ensure that DID dx remained in the DSMV. I put out a form where everyone could write their thoughts and opinions. Over 400 survivors, clinicians and supporters completed it within less than 2 weeks. I turned it into the APA during their 'open' period. I was shocked at how many came forward during such a short period of time. We all have something to offer - be it donations, working together volunteering time, or simply sharing information of what is available and attending conferences - supporting each other. We all have skills to offer - and, we are all strong and capable. Each of us has limited time - we have our own lives to live also and our own struggles. Right now, folks are watching what is going on. The 90's were difficult for therapists. The public was misinformed - that is over. We are in a new era where the truth about child abuse and its effects on children and adults is being realized by the public.
During the 60's, I was there - feeling discouraged and frustrated that all we did - walking around with signs to stop the war, burning our bras, and standing for what was right made no difference. Looking back now, I see that the 60's brought more change than ever has happened in American history - for education, for better treatment of mentally ill, etc.
Everything we do to bring the truth to the public and reveal the lies of the past makes a difference in this world - though we might not be aware now. Some are very aware - and, they put their time in of their own accord.
I might not see the fruits of everyone's labor in my time, but I have faith that the tides will turn and survivors will realize their strength and clinicians will learn during their training and later the value of appropriately treating trauma and dissociation. The public stigmatization of those having DID will change to admiration and support of those who have suffered. And, funding will be granted to those working toward better care.
Mostly, child abuse will be recognized and children and adult survivors of abuse will receive the adequate and appropriate care that they deserve.
My heartfelt thanks goes out to those professionals who have and are volunteering their time - and the survivors who have stepped forward to help also. There are literally millions of us - who, if we work together, make small changes everyday.
Now, a really long answer to a seemingly simple question.
What we could use mostly now is for those who attended to write your experiences - whatever they may have been. We had an assortment of speakers. You may not have agreed with them all, but overall - how was the conference helpful to you? How did you feel being together with such diverse people - all there to support education and awareness of trauma related disorders? If you were a speaker, how did you feel speaking to such a diverse audience? All in all, how did the conference affect you personally?
We did not have time to put together a form at the conference where people could write answers to these questions. Possibly, since some time has passed, you might do that now. You can do it here - I will start a new topic.
Thank you for asking how you can help - we appreciate it. As this long post of my thoughts seems to demonstrate - we are, ourselves, trying to determine that very question. Ideas?
We would love to hear them. Right now, I am overwhelmed with completing CUE information and getting it mailed out, putting together all of the raw footage from the conference and editing it to get out to everyone -
But, still thinking about what to do next.