Building an expense budget can seem a bit overwhelming knowing that there are so many things to procure and resources to support the event from start to finish.

We are here to help! Below are some guidelines and tips to help you build a scalable and accurate production budget.

  • Start with Basics. Simply make a list of all of the items necessary to operate and support the event. This should include everything from table and chairs to signage. It should also incorporate the items that are very specific to your event – i.e. event branded giveaways. Once you make this list, you’re half-way to building a comprehensive budget!
  • Build Formulas and Record Assumptions. Most of these items that you will list are variable to the amount of participants you will have in attendance on your event. Create formulas and make note of them so when your event begins to grow, all you need to do is plug in the new participant number and voila!, you’ve got an updated budget! For example, water will be based on a consumption assumption (xx ounces per participant per hour). Input that formula assumption so that the water line in the budget becomes scalable.
  • Create Budget Tiers. Especially on a first year event, it may be hard to predict participant attendance and subsequently it may be challenging to build an accurate budget several months before the big day. Therefore it is important to layout various options for your event resources, so when it gets closer to the event (and you have a better participant projection) you can easily make informed decisions on which options are best. For example, there are few ways to entertain participants on your event. You can make a simple playlist on your i-Pod or you can hire a DJ. Obviously the former is a lot less expensive, but if you have thousands of people on your event you may want to consider a DJ to better engage the crowd making for a better participant experience. It might be worth the extra cash.
  • Comply with Jurisdictional Requirements. Often times, jurisdictions have specific guidelines for resources like portable toilets and ambulance presence. Check with your town and city officials and find out what those requirements are and include them in your budget. Not only will you be complying with the requirements, you will know there won’t be any surprise expenses that you have no control over.
  • Plan for Contingencies. Weather is often the reason for contingency expenses. This can be it’s own line in the budget or incorporated in each line item that may be impacted (i.e. mylar blankets, water, ice, medical supplies and even site restoration post-event), but it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Make a list of possible scenarios and list out the items you might need to support them and include in the budget.
  • Ask for Sponsor Support. Ask yourself what items can be off-set or donated by sponsors. Items like water, sports drink and food are great items for sponsors to underwrite.  For your first year, assume very conservatively, but it is great to have goals to help absorb some of these expenses.

Taking these tips and guidelines into consideration will help make the process of building an expense budget less daunting.

Next month, stay tuned for creative ways to off-set some of your production expenses. 

Sarah Coniglio has been building meaningful experiences and managing the production of fundraising events for over 13 years. She has a deep passion for photography, loves to travel and has been fortunate to help various causes throughout the world through her Images for Better project that she began a couple of years ago after returning from a trip to Kenya. You can find more about Sarah on LinkedIn and also see more of her photography work on her blog.

Slade Thompson has been with Event 360 for more than 10 years and has played a role in planning and executing more than 100 events. Slade lives in Minneapolis and loves to be outdoors whenever he  can — he even enjoys the frigid winters. You can find Slade at LinkedIn.

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