Burning Man Project’s 2018 990

In what has become an annual tradition over the last seven years, we’re happy to share our 2018 Form 990, which gives a snapshot of Burning Man Project’s financials. Our 990 is an annual look at how our nonprofit organization earns and spends money. As we have for the past four years, we’re also sharing a helpful interactive pie chart with descriptions that explain where the money goes (click on the image below and you’ll be redirected).

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 990’s are helping tell the story of how Burning Many Project is evolving and what we’ve accomplished as an organization. This is one of the ways we provide transparent financial information about our organization’s operations.

What are some highlights from 2018?

Grants are provided by Burning Man Project to support artists and art in Black Rock City and global civic activation through Burners Without Borders’ civic ignition grant program. Overall, Burning Man Project’s grant program increased in 2018, up to over $2,200,000. That’s a $500,000 increase from the previous year, and it brings the total amount granted to artists, social innovators, builders and change makers since our transition to a nonprofit in 2014 to $7,800,000. Over $500,000 in grants was given to support artists based outside of the US in 2018, including the creators of the memorable Galaxia Temple project.

Burning Man Project’s operating reserve as of December 31, 2018, was a bit over $10,000,000. That number is up more than $3,000,000 from 2017. 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.

Burning Man Project received just over $2,000,000 in gifts and contributions in 2018. This includes donations from supporters and foundations across our community who are helping to build a robust and sustainable nonprofit poised to fulfill our mission of extending Burning Man culture. Thank you one and all for your ongoing support.

In 2018, Burning Man Project donated $9,300 to the Gerlach Volunteer Fire Department (reflected in the 990 as “Washoe County Fire Suppression,” as the Gerlach department is part of Washoe County). BMP donates to Gerlach Fire every year in order to assist firefighters during their busy season of the year. We also donated to Black Rock Labs, a nonprofit that grew out of Black Rock Solar and is committed to developing scalable solutions to energy, water, food, and other issues.

You may notice we received $25,114 in “speaking fees” in 2018. Every year, Burning Man Project gets over 100 invitations to speak or present at events and gatherings around the world. These opportunities help us share knowledge, educate others on the 10 Principles, and extend the culture. Speaker fees help to support the administration of our public speaking program or are reinvested in general nonprofit programming.

Finally, in 2018 we completed the transfer of Burning Man’s trademarks from Decommodification LLC to Burning Man Project. These marks include “the Man” logo and the names “Burning Man” and ‘“Black Rock City,” among others. The LLC was established to temporarily protect these words and symbols of Burning Man culture, in order to limit their commercial use and comport with our Decommodification Principle, while our new nonprofit got off the ground (more info here). With the Project well-established by 2018, the trademarks transferred on schedule in April. For more on why and how we manage intellectual property, see the Trademarks & Copyrights section of our website.

What is “Future Man LLC,” what does it do, and what are its nearly $7,000,000 assets?

Future Man LLC is the legal entity that owns Fly Ranch, which Burning Man Project purchased in 2016. The entity was created in 2017 as a holding company owned by Burning Man Project, and its purpose is to protect the future of Fly Ranch. Ownership of Fly Ranch was transferred to Future Man LLC in 2018, so this 990 reflects that it has nearly $7,000,000 in land assets. Future Man LLC simply holds the land, and the activities on Fly Ranch continue to be managed by Burning Man Project.


Top photo by Dan Adams

About the author: Burning Man Project

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8 Comments on “Burning Man Project’s 2018 990

  • Jim Foster says:

    Could I learn a bit more about Fly Ranch? It was mentioned earlier but seems to have disappeared from view. Activities? Future plans (if any).

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  • Scribe says:

    I find it amazing that Burning Man has $26 million and counting in the bank, pays Marian almost $300K a year and it still whines about paying impact fees and is suing BLM to recover more money from U.S. taxpayers. But, as I’ve learned many times before when raising accountability issues, burners just don’t care as long as the party still happens and they can pretend to egalitarian “principles” like “civic responsibility” and “radical inclusion.” Amazing.

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  • Dustin says:

    2018 art grants on playa: $1.3 million
    2018 base salaries of top 7 employees: $1.4 million

    2018 total grants worldwide: $2.2 million
    2018 base salaries of top 13 employees: $2.3 million

    There is a lot of other money that obviously goes in support of art that isn’t captured here. But considering how so many projects struggle to meet expenses, and how much the event relies on volunteer (unpaid) labor, I would think they could be a bit more generous towards art projects.

    Also relevant:
    2018 operating reserves: $10 million

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  • Banana says:

    It’s so great that there is an increasing transparency over the budgets!
    And at the same time, it’s almost unbelievable that art grants constitute only 5% of the budget, just the same amount as the ticket sales!
    Looking at the budget, it looks much more like a “festival”, rather than a “co-creative non-profit community striving to support art”…

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  • Dry Banana says:

    It’s so great that there is an increasing transparency over the budgets!
    And at the same time, it’s almost unbelievable that art grants constitute only 5% of the budget, just the same amount as the ticket sales!
    Looking at the budget, it looks much more like a “festival”, rather than a “co-creative non-profit community striving to support art”…

    Report comment

  • James says:

    Maybe executives should have to raise most of their salaries via Kickstarter to demonstrate their commitment to the project and community involvement? Works for the rest of us… supposedly.

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