Summer Update on Burning Man Project’s Financial Footing, July 2020

At Burning Man Project, we are immensely grateful to our community for stepping forward to help save Burning Man and make it possible for us to gather again in our desert home. During this season of uncertainty, we have been listening to you, our community, as much as possible. You have asked both how we are pivoting our focus (see this newly published piece on what we are doing in a year without Black Rock City), and for continued insight into our financial situation (see this piece for a detailed report from April 2020).

As we are gearing up for a busy season of virtual events together as well as fundraising opportunities to ensure we can build Black Rock City together again, we wanted to share with you a brief update on our financial footing.

During this unimaginable time, you’ve been unimaginably supportive. More than 9,000 of you have donated to Burning Man Project this year. That’s amazing! Thank you for helping us weather this unforeseen storm!

  • Over 6,000 DGS and FOMO ticket buyers donated all or a portion of their 2020 ticket purchases back to Burning Man Project, resulting in $3 million in donations to the nonprofit.
  • In addition to the donations resulting from ticket refunds, we have raised almost $1 million from over 3,000 generous community members.
  • Messages of support have been pouring in from Burners all over the world sharing the importance of Burning Man in their life.
  • Theme camps, volunteer groups, and ambitious individuals have hosted fundraisers to benefit Burning Man Project and continue to do so, including DA’s MOOPATHON, Cosmic Ranch’s F*nd Your Burn event, and several others.

Note: The financial figures in this article are unaudited financial information as of July 22, 2020. The projections for cash balances, budgeted expenses, and donations received represent our best estimates. Audited financial information from 2020 will be available in 2021.

While our community has been stepping up to give to Burning Man Project, we have been dramatically reducing organizational expenses. We’ve made staff layoffs, instituted pay cuts, canceled seasonal and temporary contracts, and are currently operating on a leaner budget for the rest of the year. Based on our best estimates, we have saved $24 million in expected 2020 expenses compared to our initial organizational budget created at the start of the year.

We still have a long way to go to pave the way for the next Black Rock City. Our goal is to raise an additional $7 million by the end of 2020.

So how can you contribute? It will take all of us to return to Black Rock City. This is our primary focus — everything that we are doing now is aimed at accomplishing this goal. We are all bringing our gifts of talents, time, creativity, and, yes, financial resources to help make this possible.

One thing you can do is to participate in one of the amazing virtual events in the Kindling Multiverse. And, if you were going to attend Black Rock City this year, consider donating the price of a Burning Man ticket!

We are also gearing up for a grassroots community fundraising campaign. You’ll hear more details from us soon!

To make up for some of our financial deficit, we have had to make some very hard choices over the last few months, including salary cuts, reductions in seasonal and year-round staff, and slashing expenses — so we understand all too well that not everyone is in a position to make a financial contribution right now. But whether you can help us get the word out about our upcoming community campaign, organize a fundraiser with your camp, or make a gift to Burning Man Project directly, our hope that each and every member of our community will participate in one of the many fundraising opportunities during this challenging, yet transformational year for Burning Man.

You have our deepest gratitude for staying with us and continuing to keep the fire burning bright. We can’t return to Black Rock City without YOU!

Top photo: Transformoney Tree by Dadara (Photo by Scott London)

About the author: Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project

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

41 Comments on “Summer Update on Burning Man Project’s Financial Footing, July 2020

  • Dustin says:

    Let’s get the other 60,000 burners to donate the ticket price if they’re able. Peer pressure folks!

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  • Larry says:

    Fly ranch cost seven million dollars. Sell it. Problem solved.

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    • Emeline says:

      “ stepping forward to help save Burning Man“
      WOW never knew the man was not all ready saved! Hallelujah brother – welcome to the flock! Saved!
      So much safer!

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    • Amalin PicaFlor says:

      Simple problems require difficult solutions……

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    • KH says:

      Yep they have other property as well. They don’t care about the voulenteers who work the event or the ones who get hurt working the event. Stop giving BM money when they won’t take care if injured workers.

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  • Sprinkman says:

    IMHO… Obviously BM Management needs to trim the fat, perhaps close San Francisco Office and move operations to Reno, scale back and cut expenses so as not to leave themselves so exposed in the event cash intake falls short again…. simply do not live beyond your means.

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  • SinglePly says:

    1. How much cash do you still have on hand?

    2. What is your current and planned monthly spending?

    3. Is your burn rate still $2 million per month?

    4. Due to the CoronaCrisis are you building a contingency plan for the very real possibility that Burning Man 2021 will not happen?

    FYI – “Burning Man receives $2 million to $5 million loan to save jobs during COVID-19 pandemic.” Click on my name to link to the Reno Gazette article.

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    • Pasta Faria says:

      This is bad news only 2 million for BORG?
      At least one creative applicant got 12 million- Lack of imagination & inspiration and having too many dimwits donating money “no questions asked no boxes to check mark” will do that to even yo the best of BORGians….. very dissspointing.

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  • Pat says:

    Since you are so big on volunteering, perhaps your staff should do it too and cut the payroll expense…

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    • Larry says:


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      • Rainer Right says:

        This is bad news only 2 million for BORG?
        At least one creative applicant got 12 million- Lack of imagination & inspiration and having too many dimwits donating money “no questions asked no boxes to check mark” will do that to even yo the best of BORGians….. very dissspointing.

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    • KH says:

      Yes it will be interesting to see how much the board members sale ties are cut! After a year where a lot of the voulenteers has no jobs and are losing everything with the Covid shut downs. How does BM think that the thousands of voulenteers will be able to return in 2021? BM keeps begging for money, they do it even when the event happens. Where is BMs radical self reliance?

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  • Anthony Thomas says:

    Glad to see some money has been raised but it doesn’t look pretty from where I’m standing, especially given the fact that 2021 seems highly unlikely too IMO.

    Maybe wealthier donors are waiting until the last minute to help. Fingers crossed on that.

    As others have said, I think if possible there needs to be much more aggressive survival tactics formed to reduce revenue needs for the next 2 years as surviving this year is only at most half of the battle you will likely face.

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  • redBone says:

    Well I didn’t donate a cent…!

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  • Gratefuly Burned says:

    Not a festival?

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  • koopa says:

    just ask Elon, he will bail you out and also build you a quantic portal for instantaneous transport between Reno and BRC.
    burnerexpress model is so 1978

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  • Some Seeing Eye says:

    Thank you for the honest update.

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  • Spacepants says:

    Thank you for the fund-raising note. Can you post a financial update at some point? Thanks.

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  • Alex says:

    So you’d like us to give you money out of the kindness of our hearts? Why don’t you start by guaranteeing a ticket in future years if you donate a certain amount? The corporate begging has to end.

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  • Sick says:

    By how much did the management team cut theor pay? Last ibheard was 20 percent for the folks at the top 15 for the rest maybe ask those at the top to give up more?
    Also, Sell Fly Ranch
    And dont give me that bs you gave at the tco meeting months ago about it being “the future of burning man”

    Give up the SF office lease
    cancel your travel budget

    How much are you spending for this virtual burningman? Maybe dial that back.
    How about dont spend ANY money on ANYTHING that doesn’t DIRECTLY and ONLY contribute to brc 2021

    Show me that you folks finally put on your big kid pants and then (and only then) will i start passing the hat for you.

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  • Bernard says:

    We need your money to keep this gravy train running. The Burning Man project is much more than the event – that’s why we have such high operating expenses year round. And those year round “Project” activities? Well it turns out those really can’t be done during Covid either (not that anyone has noticed). So we’re focusing our fundraising message on the threat to BRC21. We will periodically post vaguely worded partial financial disclosures to give the appearance of transparency to gullible burners who don’t know any better. Please give. We don’t want to fire anyone else.

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  • WillyMakeIt says:

    What a fucking joke…

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  • RawSugar says:

    I’m surprised by all the negativity. I can’t talk for others, but all I can say is that I’m incredibly grateful for what the BM organization has done and for what BM means for me personally. It has had a tremendously positive impact on my life. My camp has donated 100% of DGS tickets and we are proud to have done so.

    BM team: thank you for all you do in these tough times. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made. Thank you for being transparent with the community. And most importantly, thank you for keeping the dream alive!

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  • Seven says:

    Only $3m in donations? That’s barely enough to get through one month of expenses. It’s like these so-called Burners don’t care about changing the world based on some vague ideological mission dreamed up by some randoms in executive level positions. I don’t even get out of bed for $3m! That shit doesn’t even cover my mini bar bill! Fucking housekeeping keeps refilling it. Chewing on the doorknob at 10am with the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. Bitches!

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  • david singer says:

    Maybe sell the right to buy a ticket for 2021 for $50 – $100. That could raise a bunch of money.

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  • roopo says:

    I donate only if BMORG replace 100% of themselves with transgender black women.
    And if they post 10 more black supremacists blog posts in their series on black supremacists anti-white feelings.

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  • notAsheep says:

    So BM got $2-$5 million dollars they don’t have to pay back if they use it for payroll…..They sure are being quiet about that. Also they are suing the BLM to keep their financial details quiet. You would think an honestly ran non-profit would have nothing to hide….

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  • Fly says:

    Keep it simple… drastic times demand drastic measures

    #1. Close up all Burning Man Projects, except for the Burn.
    #2. ASAP sell 2021 tickets (at a temporary one year only )high price level thats required to break even.
    #3. In order to protect all in 2021 (and sell more tickets) , CV tests at the gate, or proof of receiving the vaccine. Don’t agree? then just skip The Burn another year.

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