LISA Manual


This section provides information on budget issues, possible sources of money, typical expenses, and general considerations for meeting planners. The exact costs depend vastly on the location where the meeting is held as accommodation, travel to that destination, local costs for restaurants and entertainment, etc. vary among countries and even among cities within one country.

Unless one organization funds the whole conference (i.e., IAU), a large percentage of incoming money arises from the registration fee. The registration fee in turn will be determined by the fraction of costs absorbed by the hosting institute.

In addition, funds raised by the Friends of LISA (FOL) are essential to the financial success of the meeting. Budget planners must be aware that in the past approx. one quarter of the registration fees were paid by FOL for its grantees (traditionally, FOL gets a few, but not many free registrations). In purely financial terms, this means that if there is no FOL money raised from donors, the financial planning must be quite different. Organizers will have to rely on those registrants who can pay (or whose institutions will pay) all of their meeting costs. In more general terms, this would remove a critical mass of participants for discussion and exchange of ideas. For further details visit the FOL web pages.

As also the Local Organizing Committee will try to find further sponsors, LOC and FOL have to define clearly and early on who solicits funds from whom. Contacting potential sponsors twice is a waste of energy -- and embarassing for the organizers.

The Local Organizing Committee also will be mostly in charge of administrative processes in conjunction with funding, e.g., setting up a bank account, monitor transfer of funds etc. (see also LOC: Fiscal logistics).

In order to distinguish between funding organizations/businesses that support the general meeting and those that help FOL, we use the following definitions:

  • Sponsors -- large-scale supporters of the conference, e.g., organizations (IAU, EU), astronomical institutes, companies and businesses that help bear administrative and logistical meeting costs or provide 'goodies'
  • Donors -- organizational, commercial or private sponsors that support FOL

The following topics are covered in this section:

  • Registration fee
  • Sponsors
  • Donors
  • Acknowledging sponsors and donors
  • Remaining funds
  • Reports to funding organizations

At the end, cost examples are given.

Registration fee
Unless the conference is funded by an organization willing to provide total funding (e.g., IAU, European Union), the largest fraction of the available budget comes from the registration fee. The fee is set by the LOC in cooperation with the SOC and will be largely determined by whatever the hosting institution does not absorb. The components can be grouped into "essential" and "nice, but not essential" ones.

Essential components include:

  • general meeting expenses, e.g., rental of auditorium with audio-visual equipment, networked computer etc.
  • administrative costs (support staff before, during and after the conference)
  • technical support (e.g., website design and maintenance)
  • mailing of announcements
  • printing of program booklet
  • morning and afternoon coffee breaks
  • transportation between conference site and dormitories as well as conference banquet if necessary
  • publication of electronic conference proceedings

Nice, but not essential components are:

  • design and printing of conference poster (unless done inhouse)
  • costs for speakers: keynote speaker and invited speakers may be paid a certain honorarium; typically the keynote speaker will be paid slightly more than other invited speakers
  • opening reception or welcome drink
  • costs for social events free of charge to attendees
  • goodies for 'welcome bag'
  • photographer
  • publication of print conference proceedings (including one free of charge copy for each participant)

Other fees arise from further social events (concerts, visit to exhibitions, etc.) and post-meeting field trips. However, these are usually booked and paid for individually by the participants and therefore don't have to be included in the registration fee.

A conference fee capable of covering all of the above is likely to be high. In order to be affordable for the largest possible number of attendees, LISA organizers should put their utmost efforts into keeping the fee as low as possible.

Another fraction of the budget comes from conference sponsors. Traditionally, companies and businesses with a strong interest in astronomy have been generous in supporting LISA conferences. Examples are publishers, database providers, vendors of library automation systems, book jobbers and journal agents, learned societies in astronomy and physics, etc. (For detailed lists of sponsors, see the conference proceedings and the Spreadsheet of Donors in the FOL section.)

Funds may also be available from national or international organizations, sometimes for a specific group of participants. For instance, the financial support from the European Union's TMR programme allowed 18 young Europeans (up to age 35) to attend LISA III.

In addition, previous Local Organizing Committees were very inventive in finding local financial support, either from the hosting institution or from local branches of commercial sponsors (e.g., Sun Microsystems Czech at LISA IV).

Any financial support will be appreciated, but sponsors may also supply small items (pens, stickers, buttons, sample software on CD etc.) that are always nice surprises in the "welcome bag" participants receive upon registration.

Occasionally, vendors, bookshops, library automation system providers etc. may be willing to give financial support, but ask for an opportunity to put up a booth during the meeting. The organizers will have to decide whether this is a suitable solution. In any case, vendors must be aware that the chance of actually concluding contracts are fairly small as most attendees will not be in a position to place purchase orders during their attendance at a conference.

Related documents:

LISA V: Sponsorship tracking form (available to LISA organizers from Uta Grothkopf at

IAU: Rules for IAU sponsored scientific meetings

EU: European Commission High-level Scientific Conferences (e.g., Euroconferences)

Soliciting letters:

LISA IV sample letter

See: Friends of LISA (FOL)

Acknowledging sponsors and donors
All sponsors must be acknowledged in the program booklet and the proceedings. However, the exact amounts donated must not be shown!

Remaining funds
After the meeting has been held, the LOC makes a final statement of income and expenditures. Any leftover funds are traditionally given to the next conference's Friends of LISA group.

Reports to funding organizations:
Post-conference reports to funding organizations may be required in order to prove that the support was justified.

Sample documents:

LISA II Report to IAU, published in IAU Commission 5 Newsletter no. 11, November 1995

LISA III Final Report to the European Commission

LISA IV draft report to SLA Endowment Fund

Related documents:

LISA III budget: pdf format / Word document

LISA V final budget (available to LISA organizers from Uta Grothkopf at

IAU Coll. 180 Budget: Registration Fee Distribution per Participant
(Note: Coll. 180 was held at USNO in March 2000. The proceedings were also published by the Naval Observatory, therefore this documents helps to get an idea of the general composition of the registration fee as well as what it cost to produce the LISA IV proceedings.)