Roller derby finances: Comparing the top nonprofit leagues in WFTDA

How do the top teams in WFTDA stack up financially? After a couple weeks digging through the data, namely 2013 public tax documents that all nonprofits file, I have the answers for you. Make your bets now. Continue reading “Roller derby finances: Comparing the top nonprofit leagues in WFTDA”

Blowouts in roller derby — how bad is it?

Rose's home team championship last weekend were NOT blowout games. Photo by Alan Cook.
Rose’s home team championship last weekend were NOT blowout games. Photo by Alan Cook.

Too many blowouts. That’s what I heard this morning on a derby Facebook group. They were discussing a game from this weekend with a score of 611-115. People then started debating the new rule set, power jams, etc etc.

So I wondered: Is it that bad? Is this happening regularly? Enough to be a concern?

I took all the scores DNN has up from this past weekend and I calculated the score difference, by percentage. And now I’m making up a totally subjective ranking system.

A game with a score of 100-101 is THE FUNNEST game (101% score differential)
100-120 is a great game (120%)
100-140 is a good game (140%)
100-200 is sort of lame (200%)
100-400 is boring* (400%)
Anything worse than 100-401 is a super boring blowout and sort of makes you question if the winners are douchebags**.

By my rankings, how did this weekend go in roller derby? Pretty good. Of the 43 games played, 26 (60%) would have been fun to see. Only 8 (18%) were total blowouts (400%+).

Here they are (Format is: % differential, team and score, team and score):

101% Hammer City Hamilton Harlots 191-Glass City Killer Bs 192

103% Ventura County 186-Junction City 192
105% Team United Blue Ribbon Bruisers 123-No Coast Road Warriors 117
106% DoomsDames 113-Ho-Bots 120
114% Chautauqua County 191-Central NY Wonder Brawlers 218
120% Ventura County 159-Wasatch Bonneville Bone Crushers 132

Good game:
122% Holy Rollers 27-Hellcats 33
124% Chicago Outfit 185 – Blue Ridge 149
126% Green Mountain 129-Assault City 102
127% Your Mom 200-NYSE 157
130% Jacksonville River City Rat Pack 125-Gainesville 163
130% Oakland Outlaws 213-Richmond Wrecking Belles 164
132% Monterey Bay 163-Santa Cruz Harbor Hellcats 215
133% Detroit 147-Ohio 196
137% San Francisco ShEvil Dead 263-Berkeley Resistance 192
144% Black Widows 174-Switchblade Sisters 121
144% Team United 123-No Coast 177
152% Nutcrackers 270-Wicked Pissahs 178
156% Cape Fear Black Harrts 124 -Carolina Bootleggers 194
166% Nashville 246-Tallahassee 148
172% Burning River 149-Queen City 256
174% PPDD All Stars 138-Capital Punishers 240
178% OK Victory Dolls 221-Duke City 124
185% Ithaca 194-Central NY 105
187% Chicago Outfit Shade Brigade 193-McClean County 103
187% Finger Lakes 232-Broome County 124

Sort of lame:
201% Arkham Horrors 118-Cosmonaughties 237
231% Pikes Peak 136-Santa Cruz 314
247% West Texas 96-Oklahoma City 237
252% Cape Fear 265-Mason-Dixon 105
260% Detroit 285-Cincinnati 109
289% Manhattan Mayhem 91-Queens of Pain 262
289% Detroit Motor City 76-Ohio Gang Green 220
306% Hammer City 245-Glass City 80
310% Oly 304-Jet City 98

You’re boring me:
(No one)

419% Inland Empire 104-Angel City Rocket Queens 436
436% Twin City 397-Circle City 91
451% Sin City 80-Angel City 361
488% Tallahassee Jailbreak Betties 93-Nashville Music City Brawl Stars 454
659% Ft Myers 46-Tampa 303
873% Twin City Plan B 428 -Circle City Party Crashers 49
1350% Dixie 351-Tragic City All Stars 26
1423% Victoria 370-South island 26

All scores are from Derby News Network. I didn’t pick and choose — there are men’s games here, home teams, etc.

Also, I don’t have time (right now) to do this for this weekend last year, but upon initial glance, it looks exactly the same at this year. There are some really close games and a few wide spreads (Actually, there may have been more blow outs this weekend last year. I’ll try to find some time and update this with last year’s stats if I find an hour or two.). Which leads me to believe it’s not so much a rule’s change …

*Disclaimer: Boring roller derby is still roller derby and derby ain’t boring.
**Sad, true.

Roller derby finances: Comparing the top-ranked nonprofit leagues in the nation

We know how Gotham sizes up to Windy City on the flat track, but what about at the bank?

By digging through (publicly available) tax documents, I tried to stack some of the top leagues against each other to see how they match up. (Make your bets now)
Here are some overall observations I had after spending hours weeding through the numbers (which are from 2011 — the last available data. Things may have changed since then.):

-Few leagues are 501c3s
What frustrated me most was how little data is publicly available on this. Only about 50 leagues in the nation have ever filed 990s (nonprofit tax forms). Of those, 28* sound like WFTDA leagues. The others are juniors, renegade and rec leagues. Many of the 28 are leagues you’ve never heard of (Oh hey, Cowboy Capital Rollergirls.) Only about seven division one WFDTA leagues filed these forms in 2011.

-Most of the top leagues are profitable
Start with some good news: Six of the eight leagues I looked at were profitable — some were very profitable, earning 116 percent of what they spent in a year.

-We don’t get grants
Of the leagues I looked at, one of them got a grant and it was for about $4,000. That’s not enough. Together, these same eight leagues brought in about $2.4 million in one year. That means that 0.16% of these nonprofits’ revenues were from grants. That’s embarrassing, frankly. It’s likely because of these leagues, only one had a paid employee (the same league that got the grant). Grant writing is a lot of work for a volunteer, which might be the reason the community got so few in 2011.

-We don’t invest
There were some really cute budget lines of “investments.” One said that a league invested $12 and earned $2 on that investment in 2011 — I have just got to assume that they bought a few extra rolls of tape and that tape prices then went up. But seriously: With assets into the $325,000 range — why is the derby community not investing this money? Most finance-types would tell you that savings account interest doesn’t even keep up with inflation nowadays. We’re losing money by stashing it.

-There is no standard
The goal of this post is to show the derby community how some leagues do it. I chose the top-ranked leagues because, by the nature of it, they are typically older leagues and likely more profitable. What I found is some leagues spend a lot of their funds to support their travel team. Others use it to put on huge bouts for their home teams. Some fundraise a ton, others don’t list any money under “fundraising.” We know this sport is young and growing and I think few leagues would tell you they know the “right” way to support the sport. But I would wager the diversity here is massive. I would suspect if you took eight non-derby nonprofits that were in the same trade, their 990s would look similar to each other. Not so much here. Everyone is doing their own thing.

-Workshops can be fruitful
The best example of this, by far, is Rocky Mountain Rollergirls. Here are their impressive** stats:
-Junior derby programs cost them $4,743 but brought in $12,250 (+$7,507).
-Their bootcamps cost them $4,678 to run and brought in $39,305 (+$34,627!).
Grand total is more than $42,000 of bank. Other leagues also found workshops, rec leagues and other training opportunities lucrative, to lesser extents.

-Gotham doesn’t have the highest rent/mortgage
This surprised me, anyway. Windy and Bay Area pay more, it seems.

-WFTDA is (seemingly***) doing great.
With earnings of more than $400,000 in a year, the WFTDA seems to be healthy. I’m glad it’s now offering me free TV.

A note before we get started: The data I have is limited. For one thing, I can only compare 501c3 nonprofits, so although I hoped to compare the top 12 ranked leagues, some of them are not nonprofits (Oly, Rat, Angel and Minnesota). Also, different leagues fill out the forms in different ways, so some leagues separate every item down to how many t-shirts they sold (Gotham), and some leagues just lump all revenues together (Bay Area). Leagues like Rose keep their junior and rec programs under their one league, but leagues like Texas created separate nonprofits for those programs. Because of all of these huge discrepancies, we can only draw wide inferences from what these numbers mean. But it’s fun. So here it is:

So, who earned the most?
I’d say WFTDA, with $411,032. But, as for leagues:
Rose City Rollers                     $77,490
Windy City Rollers                  $73,857
Texas Rollergirls                     $28,121
Gotham Girls Roller Derby    $2,896
Denver Roller Dolls                 $657
B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls           -$3,024****
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls   -$17,060

Who spent the most?
Rose City Rollers                     $490,271
Denver Roller Dolls                 $367,769
Windy City Rollers                  $361,262
Gotham Girls Roller Derby    $341,859
WFTDA                                    $285,653
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls     $246,502
Texas Rollergirls                       $115,871
B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls            $29,740

Fattest piggy bank:
WFTDA                                      $415,824
Windy City Rollers                   $326,903
Rose City Rollers                      $205,112
Texas Rollergirls                      $144,771
Gotham Girls Roller Derby     $135,774
Denver Roller Dolls                  $74,794
B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls           $53,215
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls    $17,916

Windy City Rollers                  $161,898
B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls          $137,102
Gotham Girls Roller Derby    $121,640
Rose City Rollers                     $62,690
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls   $61,056
Denver Roller Dolls                 $33,000
Texas Rollergirls                     $18,090

Dues taken in:
Rose City Rollers                          $71,002
B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls               $61,233
Denver Roller Dolls                      $53,164
Windy City Rollers                       $43,668
WFTDA                                         $38,750
Gotham Girls Roller Derby        $35,920
Texas Rollergirls                          $11,782

Travel costs:
WFTDA                                            $50,177
Windy City Rollers                         $46,097
Texas Rollergirls                            $38,109
B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls                 $35,000 (approximate)
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls          $31,733
Gotham Girls Roller Derby           $23,051
Rose City Rollers                            $20,627

Most volunteers:
WFTDA                                       1,300
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls      150
Rose City Rollers                        150
Gotham Girls Roller Derby       100
Texas Rollergirls                        100
Windy City Rollers                     100

A snip of my spreadsheet.
A snip of my spreadsheet.

**Although Rocky Mountain KILLED IT with those workshops, they were in the hole more than anyone that year. I’ve requested an interview with the league and so far they have been busy and need more time to get me the information on why their fundraisers were so successful and how they still ended up in the hole. If/when they reply, I’ll add the info.
***That’s not an ominous “seemingly” I just don’t have last year’s data or this year’s data to confirm.
****Bay Area was in the red because of expensive venue rental for their bouts, according to the league’s finance director.  Also, they were robbed at gun point that year. Bay Area’s accountant filed the league’s 990 a bit differently than other leagues; for instance, their rent is more than $100,000 but they only list their total overall expenses in the $20,000 range.
General note: Sometimes I say I examined seven leagues, sometimes eight because Philly’s data from 2009 was useful, but they haven’t filed 990s since then. I asked them if they are still a 501c3 and they are.