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San Diego’s Comic-Con, Set To Open With A Wednesday Preview, Does Darned Good Business According To Its Tax Filings

Deadline logo Deadline 7/15/2017 Michael Cieply
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As the 48th Comic-Con International approaches with a preview night on Wednesday, this  is a good a time for a quick look at the most recent tax filings from the San Diego Comic Convention, the nonprofit behind the giant fan convention. In the world of nonprofits, “recent” is a relative term: The latest filing available on the GuideStar service, which monitors such things, was submitted to the Internal Revenue Service in October of last year, and covers a period that ended on Aug. 31, 2015.  Hence it says nothing about income and expenditures related to last year’s convention, which is estimated to have drawn as many as 167,000 attendees.

Still, the filing gives a glimpse at the increasingly robust financial underpinnings of the gathering and its sponsoring organization. One eye-catching figure is the $208,894 paid to John Rogers for his services as president of the group. The salary is not particularly high as entertainment nonprofits go. But it marks a sharp step-up from the year before, when Rogers made just $64,488. In large part, the increase reflects Rogers’ transition from a part-time officer to a full-time supervisor; he now works 40 hours a week, up from 25 hours in his most recent part-time year, according to the filing. Still, his pro forma hourly rate appears to have jumped to about $100 an hour, from just under $50 an hour in the past.

Of course, the convention, founded in 1970, has been expanding on all fronts. The 2016 tax filing shows program revenues (which include some income from a related Anaheim convention) of about $19.5 million, up 14 percent from $17.1 million a year earlier. Expenses are up only 10 percent, to $15.3 million from $13.9 million, so the nonprofit’s net gain for that year expanded sharply, by 32 percent, to $4.5 million from $3.4 million a year earlier.

That meant growth in the group’s already large nest egg, which also enjoyed some investment income. Overall, net assets grew about 26 percent, to $24.9 million as of Aug. 31, 2015, up from $19.8 million the year before. A nonprofit it may be; but that San Diego Comic Convention is also a pretty good business.

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