4.4b Project & Budget Management Seminar – Reserve

Event budgeting involves having a projection of the expense and revenue that you expect to incur over the duration of an event, and updating these forecasts in relation to real costs as they happen. While it’s vital to create an accurate budget as soon as possible, it’s also important to monitor and amend it as the project progresses. Although they may get a reputation as boring, event budgets are critical in ensuring best practise and that the event is able to actually run according to budget. They allow you to examine each aspect of your event through a cost/benefit lens, which allows you to make informed decisions about your event, and improve the overall event outcome. An event budget should also include forecasting the financial result of an event, prior to the event commencing.

Having an appropriate working budget is important regardless of the type of event you’re planning. Budgeting effectively will greatly reduce costs, increase revenue sources, remove redundancies, and change management practises. It’s all too simple for prices to escalate out of reach and profits to be put mostly on hold when you don’t have a budget.

Things that you should include within you budget:

  • Note down all core income:
    Estimated, guaranteed, actual, whether it’s excl/incl of VAT.
  • All additional income:
    Sponsorship, discounts, partnership agreements etc.
  • Note down all core outgoings:
    Estimated, guaranteed, actual, whether it’s excl/incl of VAT.
  • All additional spending:
    Marketing, staff costs, catering, uniforms, venue, transport, all equipment etc.
  • Any corresponding dates or locations.
  • Staff members/task owners
  • Relevant details to accompany each row/column (like a ‘important notes’ section),
  • When items are invoiced,
  • Invoices sent or received,
  • When they’re paid,
  • Which currency items are charged in,
  • What the exchange rate is/what amount they are in GBP (or base currency).

These are basic requirements for a small event budget, but depending on the complexity, some budgets will have extra details, for example they may categorise items to their type, importance, department, timeline, budget code, or other grouped characteristics.

Top tips:

Start your budget as early as possible

The sooner you have a handle on costs, the better. Start your budget early and add to it as and when things change, even if you only have one item costed, its still not too early.

Shop around

Get multiple quote from vendors or suppliers, and don’t be afraid to negotiate what is included in the package price. Especially if there is included items that you don’t need. Make

Due diligence

Make sure that any suppliers you instruct are adequately experience or qualified to provide the service or product you need, don’t JUST choose them based on price.

Be realistic, set contingency spending.

Everything will cost more than you think it will, there is always extra costs and hidden surprises, so you should always have a reserve budget or additional-last minute costs. Depending on size and complexity, up to 25% of overall expenditure should be set aside for unplanned costs. If everything goes well, these can be converted in to profits. You can also alot certain items as Budget A/B/C.

Make sure everyone knows how to use it.

If you are using a shared budget sheet which multiple can access and update, ensure every member is using it in the same way, e.g the information that is needed/displayed, how items are coded, where to save updated version etc. There is nothing more soul-destroying than having a great budget being tampered with and causing accidental errors.

Backup your work!

Leading on from the last point, there should never only be one soft copy of anything. There should only be one usable version at a time, but if that version were to corrupt or be deleted, you should be able to pull up a recently updated copy as a backup from somewhere that is not accessible to the rest of the team. This goes for not just budgets, but any irreplaceable or important document.

No detail is too small

Make sure each individual item is listed, and that is accurately described. You don’t want to accidentally duplicate items because they are listed vaguely or are misunderstood. This is especially important for items that have multiple parts or cost to them.

Keep it clean

Make sure you can easily read and understand the budget, and try not to complicate it unnecessarily. A good rule of thumb is that if you were unable to continue the with the project suddenly overnight, could someone else pick up the budget and start where you left off without too much trouble? Can they read and comprehend the budget? That’s what you want to aim for.

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