Burning Man Project’s 2017 990

The time has come, once again, to read about Burning Man Project’s financials! You know the drill by now. We’ve published our Form 990 each year since 2012 and have just posted the one for 2017. Our 990 is an annual look at how our nonprofit organization earns and spends its money. Like every year, we’ve provided a handy pie chart with descriptions that explain what all the numbers mean.

What Is a 990?

The Form 990 is an IRS tax form that provides the public with financial information about a nonprofit organization. Essentially, it is the organization’s annual tax return. It is also used by government agencies to evaluate nonprofits and to ensure the public has access to a charity’s activities, programs, and financials. Over time, our 990s will help tell the story of how Burning Many Project has evolved and what we’ve accomplished as an organization. This is one of the primary ways we provide transparent financial information about our organization’s operations.

What Are the Highlights from 2017?

Grants provided by Burning Man Project increased by about $170,000, from $1,518,490 in 2016 to $1,690,078 in 2017. That brought the total to $5,540,388 since the transition to a nonprofit was completed in 2014. These grants help support artists bringing art to the Burning Man event in Nevada and to other locations around the world, and support projects like Burners Without Borders civic ignition grants.

Burning Man Arts and Civic Engagement (ACE) program expenses were just shy of $4 million in 2017, an increase of around $450,000 over 2016’s total. ACE’s expenses helped Burning Man Project staff support projects like our partnership with the City of San Jose & the “No Spectators” exhibition at the Smithsonian, and programs like Burning Man Arts.

Our operating reserve as of December 31, 2017 increased to $7,248,760 from $3,149,258 on the same date in 2016. This is made up of total cash ($11,462,020) minus our liabilities ($4,115,758) and restricted funds ($97,502), which equals $7,248,760. We have previously written about the importance of growing our reserve to help ensure the security of the event in Black Rock City, the organization, and the global community at large.

What’s the Big Picture? What Does Burning Man Do as a Nonprofit Organization?

Burning Man Project has earned income from several sources. The majority comes from ticket sales for the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, as well as contributed charitable donations. Our nonprofit expenses are allocated to programs that fulfill our mission and support cultural projects and initiatives. This includes year-round staffing and infrastructure to support the administration and management of our Civic and Global Art Grants, the Regional Network, Burners Without Borders, our fellowship program, and annual gatherings like the European Leadership Summit and Theme Camp Symposium. You can learn all about our nonprofit programs in our 2017 Annual Report.

For more background and answers to other interesting questions, take a look at our 2014, 2015, and 2016 990 pages.


Top photo: Peter Hudson’s Charon (Photo by Lex Kilgour)

About the author: Burning Man

Burning Man

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man's Communications Team.

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