These ideas are helpful if you are creating a budget for an event for the first time but many are good reminders that will keep any event budget on track and reflective of the goals and objectives you have for your event.

  • Most importantly, determine what your financial goals are for the event. Do you want to break even, make a profit or budget for a loss? This will affect how you develop your revenue and expense line items.
  • Know your audience. Will they be paying from their own pocket or will their expenses be covered by their organization? What are they willing and able to pay for the benefits they will receive in attending the event?
  • Check your event dates to ensure there are no conflicts with any holidays religious or secular which might affect attendance.

Start creating your budget by determining your expenses:

  • Create budget categories that reflect the areas of the meeting i.e. Expense areas: program development and production, committee expenses, promotion and marketing, registration; Revenue areas: Registration fees, Sponsorship, Investment etc.
  • Under each category include individual items. Be as specific as possible. i.e. Meeting room rental, postage, equipment rental
  • Be as thorough and accurate as possible when listing and estimating expenses. Your budget forms the foundation for your event and enables you to analyze and control expenditures.
  • If you can’t get an accurate quote at the time of budgeting, use the current cost plus a maximum percentage increase for when the event will be held.
  • Get percentage guarantees from suppliers as to how much rates will increase between budgeting and the time of the meeting i.e. If you are not sure what a bedroom rate will be for an event 3 years ahead, ask the venue to guarantee that rates will not increase more than a certain percentage per year from the current rate.
  • If you have to estimate an expense on your own, compare the last two years’ expenses for that item. Determine the percentage increase between the two years and use that as a basis for future annual increases.
  • Keep an addendum to your budget that lists how all expenses and revenues were calculated. Be as detailed as possible.

When determining the revenue side consider these factors:

  • Determine where the majority of revenue for an event is expected. Is it from registration fees, sponsorship, exhibits or a combination?
  • When calculating attendance, take into account changes in location, economic outlook and other changes that might affect attendance either negatively or positively.
  • Be conservative when estimating income for the event.
  • If funds are received prior to the event, keep them in a separate interest bearing account and credit the investment income to the event as a revenue line item.

Creating a budget for your event is an important first step to ensure the overall goals and objectives for the event and the organization can be met. The more carefully you budget the better handle you will have on the financial well-being of your event.