I am not sure when I heard about Fan Funds for the first time. Maybe it was at Eurocon in Zagreb (2012) where I met Kylie Ding who was a GUFF delegate that year. Or maybe I have seen the information earlier? Anyways, I started to seriously think about GUFF for the first time during Pyrkon 2015, when I had a fantable just next to Mihaela-Marija Perković, who was both representing Sferakon and administering GUFF at that time.
So, what is it all about?
In general, Fan Funds help fans to go the conventions held at different places. The three biggest funds are: TAFF (Trans Atlantic Fan Fund) DUFF (Down Under Fan Fund) and GUFF (Get Up-and-over Fan Fund or Going Under Fan Fund*). Their purpose is to facilitate the cultural exchange between Europe and North America (TAFF), North America and Australia/New Zealand (DUFF) and finally Europe and Australia/New Zealand (GUFF, * the exact name depends on whether the trip is northbound or southbound).
The idea behind GUFF is to send a fan (or two) to a convention held in an other part of the world. Providing the fund has enough money, it may happen every year (one year a southbound trip is organised, followed by a northbound trip the next time round). The idea is that you are not only visiting a con but also spending some time with local fans. So the GUFF trip will usually last for few weeks. Afterwards you become the administrator for the fund for the next two years, and so it goes.
Fans are the ones to decide who will go for GUFF. Once you meet the criteria to apply for it (finding nominators, paying the bond and providing a few words about yourself), a poll is held, where active fans can vote. In order to do so, they need to pay a small fee that goes to support the fund. Administrators are responsible for verifying whether all voters are active fans (e.g. they may check with other fans they know if the given person is a fan).
Panel on Fan Funds during Worldcon 75. Farthest to the right sits Donna who was at her GUFF trip at this time
Where does the fund get the money? It is the administrator who is tasked with the fundraising activities. It is usually done through auctions at conventions, fundraising parties during the GUFF trip and selling the trip report (e.g. here).
I dreamed a dream in times gone by…
Mihaela told me more about the GUFF when we were sitting next to each other at Pyrkon 2015. I have always wanted to go to Australia and here I met someone who explained to me that not only I can go, but I can join in with my big love for fandom. I was astounded by the whole idea. And I wanted to sign in right there and then, but…
Mihaela who was GUFF delegate in 2014 during Worldcon 75
… you may ask why I have not applied for GUFF yet? There are multiple reasons, but the main one is that I did not feel ready. When the initial fascination was gone, I started to think more and more about it. I got the feeling that it would be unfair to try if I cannot be a good European ambassador. At that time I knew and attended Polish conventions almost exclusively. I did not have much contact with fans outside of Poland and I simply feelt that this is why I would not make a good ambassador. I decided that in order for me to run for GUFF, I must be able to represent not only Poland but the entire Europe.
Games Room during Tarcon 2007 – small and nice Polish convention
And here I am
Can I represent European fandom now? Yes and no. It would take me decades to understand the fandom in all European countries to the same degree I understand Polish fandom. But now I know much, much more about fans in Europe then I knew back in 2015.
I travelled to conventions in different countries and the more I travel the more I want to see. During my journeys I met great people and I made some friends. I learned a lot and I hope I also understood a little bit of the fannish ways in different countries. I am happy I was able to help out at some of the conventions I attended. There is no better way to meet people and understand the cons than this.
At Swecon 2016 I had the pleasure to participate in panel on international fandom.
I do feel that now is a good time for me to apply for GUFF. I hope I will be able to make a good ambassador and to take all my love of fandom to the other side of the globe (and back again ;)). Soon, the voting will begin and I hope for a success!