This week I received email from someone who objected to my review of the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy because the organization accepts money from people wanting to be included in their research expeditions. Certainly, everything about this organization spells money… the website appears to be professionally designed, there’s a membership application on the site, and photos of expensive equipment give one the impression that there’s got to be some kind of funding going on.
Membership is clearly explained on the site and requires a $60 annual fee: TBRC Membership. There’s also an annual TBRC conference. I believe the $15 general admission charge is very reasonable, and the public is welcome to attend so that price is not just for members. The person who wrote to me said that a friend paid several hundred dollars to participate in a TBRC weekend expedition. There’s no mention of this kind of fee on the site, so far as I can detect. Such a fee rivals BFRO’s expedition costs.
So this brings up a topic that I believe a lot of people have problems accepting – that people want to make money with their Bigfoot research hobby! Moreover, equipment costs money! I can totally identify with both issues. My partner and I are both unemployed at this point and we don’t have the high-tech equipment to use like the big organizations do (TBRC, BFRO, etc.) …so money, getting donations, and finding solutions in order to be able to do Bigfoot research – these have been topics of conversation around here! Until recently we didn’t even have a 4 wheel drive vehicle to take into the forest. I just purchased a 1995 4wd Ford Aerostar van for Bigfoot research activities, and I still can’t take it into the forest because it needs better tires first. I’m hoping to get them before the end of the year, but there’s other equipment we’d like to have: a good video camera and trail cams, for example. I would love to be able to make YouTube videos of our activities in the forest. So money, yes… it is an issue. I’m very close to putting a donation link on my Friends of Sasquatch site. I had one on this site many months back but never got any donations. Also the AdSense I have on this site doesn’t even cover the cost of my server, so I can’t really say I’m making money here at all.
I can also see why many people who do Bigfoot research as a hobby are offended by organizations that charge for participation. The organization may justify this as a needed revenue building opportunity so that expensive equipment can be purchased, gasoline paid for, and organizational expenses paid. On the other hand, some of this money could be siphoned off for other uses. Do any of these organization czars get paid? Does Matt Moneymaker actually make money with Bigfoot explorations?
My informant stated that he has been doing Bigfoot research for quite a few years, paying his own way, with a group that does not accept donations or collect fees. There are probably hundreds of similar Bigfoot researchers who do this because they love squatching, not because they’re looking for donations for their research organizations. I picture them as hard working people (mostly men) who buy their own research equipment and go on expeditions with their friends in their spare time.
At the other end of the spectrum are people like “he whose name will not appear in my blog” whose Bigfooting business plan has been put online by an ex-cohort.
There are lots of ways that Bigfoot researchers and investigators try to earn money, and here are some that I know of:
1. Creating a website then asking for donations
2. Putting advertising on the website
3. Charging for expeditions
4. Creating a NPO then charging membership fees
5. Getting large donations from rich businessmen needing a tax write-off
6. Writing a book about Bigfoot
7. Creating Bigfoot themed products and selling them
8. Gathering Bigfoot evidence, then selling it
Am I missing anything on this list?
So which of these are acceptable and which aren’t? When should a hobby turn into a business?
Is it ethical to charge a fee for expedition participation when anyone can just go out into the woods and start squatching on their own?
I’d like to get comments on this from anyone having strong feelings one way or the other about money issues in Bigfoot research. I told the person who emailed me, “I have never paid to be in any Bigfoot research organization or to go on any expeditions. It seems senseless especially since there are many miles of forest for anyone to explore, and being in a large group is likely to repel a Bigfoot, not attract one.” That’s just my opinion; I’m sure there are others able and willing to pay hundreds for a little field training.