How we made CSSConf Argentina

Nine months worth of teamwork and about $20,000 USD is what it took to build this non-profit conference for 400 attendees. it was hard work, but it was worth it.

The conference took place on August 18th, 2018; we started planning at the end of December 2017 and the first question we asked ourselves was “What are our main goals?” Community and great content. As simple as it sounds it wasn’t easy to achieve because it is, after all, all about the money.

Argentina is no first-world country and it is also uncommon to have tech conferences (JSConf and Ekoparty helped pave the way a few years back). Companies don’t usually cover employees’ tickets and with an average monthly salary of $900 / 1300 USD web developers can find it very hard, if not impossible, to pay their tickets out of their own pockets. Therefore, it is only a matter of mathematics. A $400 USD ticket might sound affordable in your home country but it definitely doesn’t work like that everywhere else.

Yes, scholarships help (see numbers below to learn what we did there) but they are only palliatives. Money is exclusionary. We don’t want to force people into having to rely on scholarships; doing that feels like creating a new barrier of entry. Not everybody feels they “deserve” this kind of ticket and no matter the efforts, some will never feel “worthy enough” to apply.

Ticket price is an integral part of our inclusion and community efforts.

Argentina’s economy 101

(In case you are not familiar with it)
This beautiful country has a strange relationship with the US Dollar, it’s like a thing… Dual-currency or whatever you wish to call it. I’m pretty sure you can google a lot about that if you are interested. What’s important about it here is that currency exchange tends to be a roller coaster.

January 2nd, 2018:
1 US Dollar was equivalent to $18.76 Argentinian pesos

August 30th, 2018:
1 US Dollar was equivalent to $38.26 Argentinian pesos

While reading this document bear in mind that flight tickets, hotel reservations and even the conference catering is affected by the rise of US Dollar exchange rate and inflation.

The numbers

Ok, so this is what you are here for. Without further ado, here are the two most important numbers:

  • How much we raised
  • How much we spent

How much we raised

Raised amounts
From Sponsors$11,769 USD56.5%
From Tickets$9,067 USD43.5%
Total$20,836 USD100%


We are more than grateful for each of our sponsors: Google, DataArt, Mercado Libre, Virtualmind, Stensul, Acamica, OLX and Mozilla. Without them, CSSConf Argentina wouldn’t have happened.

These sponsors provided:

  • 24 hotel nights
  • 3 international flights
  • Venue rental
  • Speakers’ dinner
  • Swag (comfy socks and bag)
  • Translation service

Before we began looking for sponsors we made two important decisions:

  1. We would not sell speaking slots:
    Nothing against that but we wanted to make sure that our conference remained as neutral as possible and with only 8 slots for speakers and an open Call For Proposals we agreed that it would be better to keep speakers independent of sponsoring packages.
  2. If possible, we would get things covered by sponsors, instead of them giving us the money directly:
    This might sound strange but it was highly beneficial for all. We are a non-profit conference so by letting sponsors cover hotels or flights directly we provided transparency on how we handled expenses and at the same time it was a little less tax-hassle for us as organizers!


Expenses that weren’t covered by sponsors were covered by ticket sales.

Tickets by category
Tickets sold (paid)26266.2%
Tickets scholarships (free)7019.5%
Tickets sponsors (free)287.1%
Tickets crew (free)328.1%
Avegares of ticket prices and numbers
Average ticket price
($9,067 USD / 262)
$34.6 USD
(Ticket Holders paid an extra 6% charge of Eventbrite)
Money (from ticket sales) available per person
($9,067 USD / 392)
$23.13 USD
Money available per attendee
($20,836 USD / 392)
$50.15 USD

How much we spent

Values are shown in Argentinean pesos (ARS).

Most expenses were in pesos, affected by the rise of the dollar. We took an average of 26 / 27 pesos per USD Dollar to make this graph, but bear in mind that numbers are not exact since doing that would require us to go back in time nine months through loads of emails and check each day with each value of US Dollar and… Nope.

Avegares of ticket prices and numbers
Taxes$8,490 ARS1.55%
Organizing$3,895 ARS0.7%
Speakers$273,251 ARS49.35%
Communication$76,168 ARS13.75%
Venue$191,826 ARS34.65%
Total ARS$553,630 ARS100%
Total USD$20,505 USD100%

What does... include?

  • Taxes: ... We guess there’s not much to explain here.
  • Organizing: Meetings since December, if we took a coffee or a beer or a tea, conference paid that.
  • Speakers: Hotel with breakfast (24 nights total), 5 international flights (no business class), 1 international ferry trip, speakers dinner, transportation (to/from airport, to/from venue), Argentinian chocolates (YES!), 6 SUBE cards for transport inside the city with a charge of $80 pesos each.
  • Communication: Domain name (valid for 2018 and 2019), Gmail service (also valid for 2018 and 2019), banners, sticky tags for badges, badges, lanyards and swag (socks and bags)
  • Venue: Renting of the venue itself, food and coffee service (includes vegan and gluten-free), insurance, tech stuff (microphones, switch, etc) and translation service

Recap & final words

Final numbers
Money raised$20,836 USD
Money spent$20,505 USD
Money left$331 USD


  • Are these numbers exact? Are there really $331 left?

    No. As we said above, getting the exact values would take loads of our time (and still probably not be exact). We believe there are around 500 to 200 USD left

  • What are you going to do with that money left?

    There are two possibilities, either save it for the next conference or spending it on translating and adding captions to videos. We will probably go for the latter even though it’s probably not enough money to do that with all the videos.

  • What would you improve?
    • Better flights for speakers (fewer connections)
    • Fee for speakers (and for everyone that works on the event)
    • Better coffee (it wasn’t cheap and it wasn’t tasty, but it’s not our priority at all)
    • Actually save money for video translation and captions
    • Save the money from ticket sales in US Dollars and not Argentinian Pesos to (try to) avoid inflation
  • Why did this take SO long to publish?


  • When will the videos be up?

    Soon, hopefully!

  • Is this the only way of organizing a non-profit conference?

    Nope, each conference has its own valid way of organizing, prioritizing and distributing funds.

  • I have genuine, actionable feedback to share or an honest question I'd like answered

    Please email us at the conference email or DM us on Twitter (bear in mind we might take a few days to answer)

  • What can we, as attendees, do to make it easier for non-profit conferences to survive?
    • Buy tickets in advance
    • Buy diversity tickets if you can afford them
    • Be nice

Thanks for reading, my friend.