October 17, 2013
11 ways the impoverished Nobel Foundation can save money
by Alex Shephard
Times are tough. Over the past five years, we’ve all had to tighten our belts, scale back on luxury goods, and put off vacations.
Even the Nobel Foundation is running out of money. Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that the Foundation “is now considering charitable donations after previous strategies failed to bring in enough money.” Last year, they cut the prize money to a measly $1.23 million and doubled-down on the one failsafe way to make a ton of money (and never lose it!): investment in hedge funds.
But the hedge funds didn’t work out the way the Foundation had planned, so they’re now looking at ways to cut costs and bring in revenue in other areas. First, they plan on making their fancy schmancy banquet a little less fancy. According to executive director Lars Heikensten, they plan on cutting costs by as much as 20 percent—no more caviar for you, Hjördís Svennson! Second, they plan on franchising the brand by opening museums devoted to the Nobel Prize outside of Scandinavia. Because, hey, nothing rakes in cash like museums!
But it doesn’t have to come to that. Here are eleven foolproof ways the Nobel Foundation can save money while avoiding the indignities of starting a museum franchise or being forced to sell its precious silver plates.
- Stop making medals out of gold. Make them out of chocolate. Or chocolate-covered wafer biscuit, in which case they could strike up a lucrative partnership with the fine people at Kit Kat.
- Shave Alfred Nobel’s beard. Engravers, whether they’re engraving gold or chocolate, are expensive. Getting rid of Nobel’s beard would cut their workload in half (at least) and save a ton of money in the process. Also, if times get really tough, they could sell the hair.
- Stop giving prizes for stupid things that don’t matter, like “physics” and “medicine.” Self-evident.
- Let members of the public apply for the Nobel Prize, for a fee. “Think you’ve got what it takes to be a Nobel Laureate? Submit your best research as an attachment, along with the $50 reader fee.” Hey, it works for literary magazines! Actually, no it doesn’t.
- Alchemy. How are you guys not working on this?
- Nobel Foundation members need to learn to turn the lights off when they leave a room. It saves money and it saves the environment.
- Turn down the heat at Nobel Prize-related meetings, ceremonies, and dinners. It doesn’t need to be that toasty. Tell presenters, honorees, and audience members to bring a light jacket and watch the savings roll in!
- Regift medals from dead Laureates to living ones. What does William Faulkner‘s skeleton need a medal for?
- Stop printing giant novelty checks. They’re tacky.
- Tell the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the Nobel Prize for Economics, to stop giving prizes to economists that argue, somehow, for the rationality of the market, thus ensuring a return to saner Keynesian economics, thus growing wealth in general.
- Buy gold in bulk. Look, I know I said to replace the gold in medals with chocolate, but there’s no reason to back away from gold as an investment—it never, ever, ever declines in value. Ever. Just ask this guy.
Alex Shephard is the director of digital media for Melville House, and a former bookseller.