Creating a budget for your event can be an overwhelming process. It probably isn’t the most enjoyable part of planning an event.
With a long list of expenses, it might tempt you to skip the financial planning element, throw money at things and jump into signing contracts with vendors. While this might sound like an easier solution, you're setting yourself up for failure by not having a clear budget.
*** Read the purple box below for our pro-tip on event budgeting.
"If you start with the budget first, you might end up with half a canoe."
And as we all know, half a canoe is no canoe at all. So if you start with the budget first, that might be where you end up.
You want to show them you can build the glue, you can build the ultimate answer, and then you price it.
Founder of Caspian Agency
If you have organized events before, your past events can provide you insight into creating and managing your next event’s budget.
If you overspend on certain items, such as the venue or marketing, chances are other event organizers are also incurring the same costs. Conduct research to find better or changing industry rates!
Once you’ve identified areas where you can save, it’s time to set specific goals.
Whether you’re trying to increase your return on investment, increase event attendance, improve brand awareness, or increase the amount of money you receive from sponsors, setting goals will keep you grounded and focused.
Set specific targets early on.
Microsoft Excel and other online spreadsheet programs can prove helpful in your budgeting. List your line items and create columns for the projected and actual expenses.
From there, you will fill in the spreadsheet as you settle payments. This way, you can track and manage your spending as you tick off each item from your list.
Popular budgeting programs include: Mint, Money Dance, LearnVest, CountAbout, Personal Capital, and Mvelopes.
Former President of the United States
Event sponsors can be valuable for your budgeting. They often provide you with the funding you need to host a successful event for publicity, increased brand awareness, or increased sales.
Getting a sponsor is a great way to save on costs. It’s also a mutually beneficial relationship for you and the sponsoring company or brand.
Are you hosting a team meeting, a cocktail reception, or a corporate conference? Sporting or education event? Whatever event you’re organizing, the first step should identify the resources you have available.
For example, let's say you're planning a office party:
You get the idea. Find out your event type and draw on your resources.
Your high-level spending plan should outline the basic logistics. Once you draft your logistics, you can begin getting rough budget estimates for each.
Categories in your high-level spending plan can include:
Creating a high-level spending plan and getting a rough estimate for each category will give you a better projection of your total expenses.
REMEMBER: By outlining a spending plan, you still are not setting a budget; nor are you limiting yourself.
Instead, you are envisioning everything you want to have at your event. Only after is when you gather costs and set the budget in order to evaluate what works and what doesn't.
Other expenses to consider:
Holding virtual or hybrid events can help cut costs.
With a detailed list of line items, you can continue reaching out to vendors to get quotes. Even if you have specific vendors you like working with, get at least three quotes for each line item.
The chances are that you’re likely to find someone else who has lower rates, and your favorite vendor might match the price or add something else like free event staff or free A/V and electrical equipment.
With your goals set, it’s time to share your estimated budget with your sponsors. It’s crucial to make sure that they are aware of the event budget and approve of it.
The earlier you communicate your budget and get a green light from your sponsors to plan the event, the better.
Presenting your sponsors with a rough budget can help you get an estimated amount you can revise as you progress with your planning.
With your high-level plan and a rough budget estimate in place, you can start mapping out individual line items.
The more detailed your expenses are, the more accurate and organized your event budget will be.
Dissect your expenses into line items. You can break down your high-level expenses into line items.
"What is an expensive event?"
Some people say 50,000, some people say a million. But what are they comparing that to?
Without knowing our return on investment, no event is expensive or inexpensive. It's just a number.
Answer: It can't be gauged unless I know what kind of return on investment we're getting...the value determines how expensive an event is.
Founder of Caspian Agency