It’s no secret that most people hate budgeting. And creating an event budget can be a daunting task. Not only does it require all the logistics of planning out what you’ll actually need for the event, but you’ll also need to research prices and see what is realistic. With so many moving parts it’s no wonder that people avoid making budgets.
But event budgeting doesn’t have to be scary. Instead, it can be a powerful tool to keep event spending on track, encourage value-for-money solutions and empower you when making decisions. Below are our top tips for making budgeting a breeze, so that you can get to the fun part of event planning!
Why do you need to create an event budget?
Having a well-organised budget with accurate quotes can make or break an event. It will ensure you have made strategic decisions around where to spend your dollars and make sure you get the most bang for your buck. And it will also make decisions a lot easier down the line. Want a signature cocktail or special draping? The answer will clear as soon as you check the budget.
Another thing that budgeting early does is kickstart the planning process. The earlier you can plan your event, the further your money will go. Starting research early will help avoid rush fees and may also give you more room to negotiate with vendors and suppliers.
Create a budget template
It’s good to start with a high-level template listing all the big items you know you’ll need for an event. It’s a good idea to do this in a spreadsheet and familiarise yourself with a few basic functions, such as using different columns, having multiple sheets, and using a sum formula (to automatically add together all the numbers in a certain column). To simplify things, even more, you can always use the premade Excel ‘budget’ template and start there.
It’s also always a good idea to have a few basic columns:
- Estimated cost
- Actual cost.
Using these columns, it will be easy to see how your budget evolves over the lifecycle of your planning. Some things will end up being less expensive than expected, while others may end up costing more. This layout allows you to see all of this movement and adjust your budget accordingly.
Start researching the cost of the event
Once you have brainstormed a list of items that will be needed for the event, it’s time to start estimating how much each one will cost. There are a number of ways to do this research and get a strong idea:
- Look at data from past events
- Contact vendors (and negotiate!)
Data from past events
If you’ve hosted this event before (and, hopefully, kept good records) you should be able to see how much everything cost last time, and use this as a rough estimate. Make sure that you adjust the cost based on the number of guests that attended last time, adjusting for the expected attendees this year.
It’s a great idea to look online to get an idea of how much different venues, food and other items cost. Keep a track of all of this information (it will come in handy when contacting vendors).
Contact vendors (and negotiate!)
The next step is to get in touch with vendors to get quotes. It’s advisable to contact at least three vendors, especially for big items. If you have an established relationship with a vendor, don’t be afraid to let them know if someone else can provide an item cheaper. They may be able to match them or offer some other extra value.
Once you have all of this information plugged into the budget, it’s time to start making decisions. Luckily, having a high-level overview of how much each item will cost should help streamline this process.
Don’t forget event promotion
It can be easy to get carried away with planning details of the event itself and forget that there still needs to be a budget for promoting the event and selling tickets. Check out our blog on creative ways of increasing ticket sales.
Include a rainy day fund
Things happen, and it’s a good idea to include a margin for error in your event budget. Around 10-15% is a good rule of thumb. Also, ensure you have made note of cancellation policies and any associated fees.
Don’t be afraid of spending money
Sometimes when we budget, we can end up being overzealous, and opt for the cheapest possible item. While this might be a good idea for some items, it’s also important to splash a bit of cash to elevate the event. Budgeting isn’t about trying to spend as little as possible but just ensuring that funds are being allocated to the best possible place.
Look over the budget and work out which vendors would really help make the event special. Maybe it’s opting for the ice sculpture, or getting the decor that ensures your event is highly instagrammable.
But make sure you understand your ROI
It’s important to have targets for your event, to ensure you get a return on investment. If your target is to make a profit or to raise funds through ticket sales, it is important to know what those targets will be ahead of time and plan your budget accordingly.
A sponsorship package is essentially a partnership agreement with a list of deliverables from the event in exchange for cash and/or merchandise from a brand. Event sponsorship is very similar to advertising, except that it adds a layer of engagement brands don't get from an ad campaign.
These can also be a great additional source of revenue that will help reduce the cost of your event. It’s also worth considering sponsorships if your event is a fundraising event, as companies may be interested in supporting the event to improve their goodwill and reputation. For more strategies on securing sponsorships, you can read through our blog.
We know that every dollar counts. That’s why we use ticketing fees to fund the future of disadvantaged kids. List your event with us, and know your fees are going towards something good.
Em Meller lives and works in Sydney, Australia on the unceded lands of the Gadigal people. Her work has appeared in places like The Lifted Brow, Cordite, and Going Down Swinging. She has studied creative writing at the University of Technology, Sydney, and at Oxford University.