Pricing Info

The Pay-What-You-Can Pricing System!

A weekend that’s affordable for young people…

When we launched YDW in 2008, that was one of our central goals. We began with a pricing system experiment in which people paid differing amounts depending on their age. That was all well and good for the first three years of YDW, but we got to thinking: Maybe age isn’t the best way to determine how much someone can afford to pay to attend YDW. While in theory age was an okay predictor, in practice young people’s financial situations vary considerably. So starting in 2011, we switched to a “pay what you can” pricing system. That worked well in 2011 (see below), so we’ve decided to stick with this plan for the foreseeable future.

How the System Works

Pay What You Can

You choose how much you can afford to pay to attend YDW, starting with a minimum of $105. We trust you to consider carefully your means in relation to the cost of putting on the weekend and to be generous if you can.

What YDW costs

$145 is the actual per person cost of putting on YDW: $30 for food, $35 for the venue, and $80 to pay the staff and cover other miscellaneous costs — everything from signs to web hosting to insurance.

If you can’t afford to pay $145, that’s fine. We want the weekend to be available to everyone, you included. Pay what you can afford.

If you can afford to pay $145, please do.

If you can afford to pay more than $145, every dollar goes towards supporting other attendees and making YDW a viable, accessible, and awesome weekend. ($185, for example, makes it possible for someone who can only afford the minimum to attend.)

Please note: If you can only afford $105, we hope you will come. That’s why we’re doing this after all. But… if everyone chose to pay the minimum of $105, the weekend would lose about $4000! (Yikes!) We’d strongly prefer for that not to happen. So think about what you can pay and be generous.


Here are a few scenarios to help you choose a payment bracket:

  • You are a student and your parents are helping cover the registration costs.
    • Go for $145.
  • You just graduated from college, are unemployed, and get a headache looking at your student loan balance.
    • Maybe somewhere between $105 and $145 is for you.
  • You have a steady job but remember what it was like to be in the above category.
    • $160 will help make this a sustainable weekend.
  • Life is good and you really dig the mission of YDW.
    • Chip in $185, enough to cover someone who can only afford the minimum.
  • You love the mission of YDW and want to give back.
    • Cover two folks at the minimum level with $225.
  • If you are over 35, we suggest $185 or above.

These are just a few examples of the financial realities in our community. We hope that this new system will help you find an affordable, comfortable price regardless of your individual situation.

You make this possible!

The YDW Committee is excited to be continuing this idea, and we believe that our community will again make it work. So thanks!

Positive Results in 2011

We were thrilled to see that in 2011, even with this new pricing structure, we were able to cover our costs without dipping into our reserves. We now believe that the pay-what-you-can system can be a model that allows for both financial accessibility and sustainability.

For the data geeks among us, here is a statistical and graphical summary of the 2011 registration fees:

Average payment = $128.50

Average payment by age-group:

  • 18-22 = $115
  • 23-28 = $128
  • 29-35 = $143
  • 36+ = $150

Payment Categories

  • Below minimum = $0-$90 (performers and staff)
  • Minimum = $90
  • At cost = $130
  • Sponsor = $170  ($130 + $40 to cover for one person paying $90)
  • 2x Sponsor = $210 ($130 + $80 to cover for two people paying $90)

Percent registrations below, at, or above cost:

  • Below cost = 30%
  • At cost = 36%
  • Above cost = 33%

Including t-shirt sales and other things, we were able to end up without any losses. So the point is, you all rock! You came together to make the weekend more possible and more accessible. The experiment worked!