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Organization for Transformative Works: 2020 Budget Update

During 2020, the OTW Finance team has continued to review the organization's financial transactions for accuracy and completeness. Additional tasks have included paying the bills, completing the audit of the 2019 financials, and ensuring that standard accounting procedures were met.

In the meantime, the team has also been diligently working on the update to the 2020 budget, and are proud to present it here! (access the 2020 budget spreadsheet for more detailed information):

2020 Expenses

Expenses by program: Archive of Our Own: 68.2%. Open Doors: 0.2%. Transformative Works and Cultures: 0.3%. Fanlore: 2.4%. Legal Advocacy: 0.4%. Con Outreach: 0.1%. Admin: 9.3%. Fundraising: 19.1%.

Archive of Our Own (AO3)

$76,703.46 spent; $306,623.55 left

  • US$76,703.46 spent so far out of US$383,327.00 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • 68.2% of the OTW's expenses go toward maintaining AO3. This includes the bulk of our server expenses—both new purchases and ongoing colocation and maintenance—website performance monitoring tools, and various systems-related licenses, as well as costs highlighted below (access all program expenses).
  • This year, US$18,000 in contractor costs have been spent on separating AO3 administrative roles in the background to make volunteer work more efficient. Other budgeted AO3 expenses include an additional US$100,000.00 in contractor costs for work on moving AO3 collection searching to Elasticsearch and upgrading to Rails 6.
  • Additionally, AO3 expenses include the purchase of frontend servers, database servers, and VM servers for roughly US$147,000.00. The new database servers will expand the ability of our infrastructure to store works for AO3 and also increase the number of pages served to users. The old servers will be repurposed as application servers, which generate site pages.
  • Also planned is the installation of a third server rack later in the year to give AO3 (and OTW websites) more power capacity and reduce the impact of server failures. Adding this rack will involve setup costs of roughly US$8,000.00, and will increase our monthly server costs by US$2,200.00
  • Other budgeted costs include US$33,000.00 for a Systems contractor, who will do some work for various OTW projects, including AO3.


$2,527.97 spent; $11,131.60 left

  • US$2,527.97 spent so far out of US$13,659.57 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Fanlore expenses are mostly its allocation of server purchases, maintenance, and colocation costs, in addition to Fanlore's web domain renewals (access all program expenses).

Transformative Works and Cultures

$331.00 spent; $1,500.00 left

  • US$331.00 spent so far out of US$1,831.00 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Transformative Works and Cultures' expenses are the journal's website hosting, and publishing and storage fees (access all program expenses).

Open Doors

$364.01 spent; $563.77 left

  • US$364.01 spent so far out of US$927.78 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Open Doors' expenses consist of hosting, backup, and domain costs for imported fanwork archives (access all program expenses).

Legal Advocacy

$0.00 spent; $2,500.00 left

  • US$0.00 spent so far out of US$2,500.00 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Legal's budgeted expenses consist of filing fees (access all program expenses).

Con Outreach

$0.00 spent; $500.00 left

  • US$0.00 spent so far out of US$500.00 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Budgeted expenses include US$100.00 for printing flyers and US$400.00 for other convention outreach activities on behalf of the OTW (access all program expenses).


$44,771.92 spent; $62,476.28 left

  • US$44,771.92 spent so far out of US$107,248.20 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • Our fundraising expenses consist of transaction fees charged by our third-party payment processors for each donation, thank-you gift purchases and shipping, and the tools used to host the OTW's membership database and track communications with current and potential donors (access fundraising expenses).


$10,475.36 spent; $41,928.78 left

  • US$10,475.36 spent so far out of US$52,404.14 total this year, as of July 31, 2020.
  • The OTW’s administrative expenses include hosting for our website, trademarks, domains, insurance, tax filing, and annual financial statement audits, as well as communication and accounting tools (access all admin expenses).

2020 Revenue

OTW revenue: April drive donations: 60.8%. October drive donations: 9.9%. Non-drive donations: 24.5%. Donations from matching programs: 4.0%. Interest income: <0.1%. Royalties: 0.1%. Other Income: <0.1%. Restricted donations: 0.7%.

  • The OTW is entirely supported by your donations—thank you for your generosity!
  • We receive most of our donations each year in the April and October fundraising drives, which together should account for about 71% of our income in 2020. We also receive donations via employer matching programs, royalties, Amazon Smile, and PayPal Giving Fund, which administers donations from programs like Humble Bundle and eBay for Charity. If you'd like to support us while making purchases on those websites, please select the Organization for Transformative Works as your charity of choice!
  • Given your generosity in the past several drives, we are planning to transfer an additional US$150,000 into our reserves, to be kept in store for a rainy day. Thanks to this, we are exploring alternative revenue sources to supplement your donations. We have made progress in a search for a suitable investment method and investment specialist for a small nonprofit organization like the OTW; we aim to fully set up a low-risk, conservative investment portfolio by the end of 2021.
  • Your generosity during the April 2020 drive especially has left the OTW with the ability to begin planning for the fiscal feasibility of large scale projects. We look forward to sharing these with you once we figure out the legal and practical logistics!
  • We also received our first restricted donation: US$5,161.62 from HP Education Fanon, Inc., a fellow 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to promoting the benefits of reading that sadly ceased operations in 2018. The donation will go toward supporting Francesca Coppa's book on the history of fan vidding for the University of Michigan Press, which is currently in production. The money will be used to pay for the University of Michigan to host the fanvids referenced in the book, as well as assist in making the book free for everyone to read and use.
  • US$665,975.09 received so far (as of July 31, 2020) and US$754,362.62 total projected to be received by the end of the year.

$665,975.09 donated; $88,387.53 left

Got questions?

If you have any questions about the budget or the OTW's finances, please contact the Finance committee. We will also be hosting an open chat to answer any questions you may have. This chat will take place in our public chatroom on October 10 at 8pm UTC (what time is that in my timezone?).

To download the OTW's 2020 budget update in spreadsheet format, please follow this link.