Master Event Budgeting and Financial Planning: 8 Expert Tips

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When planning an event, it can be easy to get carried away with expenses. You want the best catering, the perfect venue, and you definitely won’t skimp on the decor! But all of this adds up, and what started as a budget-friendly event soon looks like it’s going to break the bank. That’s where financial planning comes in, helping you get on top of your money and stay in control throughout event preparation.

1. Identify Your Event Goals

Before you think about costs, detail the goals you have for your event. Consider:

  • What your event should accomplish
  • The goals of the client/host
  • What the attendees will be expecting
  • Your desired aesthetic and vibe
  • Non-negotiables (e.g. a certain band or specific venue)

Your objectives will have a strong influence over where your money is directed. For example, if you’re catering for wealthy clientele, you know they’ll be expecting a high standard of food and drinks and this should be a budget priority. For a marketing event, your expenses may be focused more on event technology (e.g. audio equipment) and decor that matches the brand identity.

Once you know more about your goals, you’ll have a better idea of the budget you need to create the event, with solid foundations to move forward on.

2. Use Data From Past Events

If you’ve hosted similar events in the past – in theme, goals, or scale – you can use your previous budget to give you a better idea of what to expect moving forward. In an event planning company, other members of your team can be useful at this point, lending you budgets from events they’ve held with a similar theme. 

Editing a previous budget to suit your current event is a lot easier than starting with a blank spreadsheet! Of course, costs may have changed in the time that’s passed, but it’ll still give you a ballpark figure and valuable inspiration. 

3. Are You Selling at Your Event?

Ticket sales aren’t the only way to generate income for your event. Before finalising your budget, consider if you plan on selling merchandise at the event itself. 

While you shouldn’t bet your budget on ticket sales (just in case you don’t sell as many as you were expecting) there are opportunities for you to make additional income from in-person sales at the event itself. 

Many payment providers specialise in supporting event planners with the means to take credit card payments in person. By embracing this type of technology, you will encourage attendees to make additional purchases and provide you with an extra source of revenue. 

Be sure to price your merchandise competitively and make informed predictions when setting out your budget in relation to the volume of sales.  

4. Can You Get Any Funding?

Certain events, such as charity auctions or networking sessions, may be suitable for fundraising. It’s common for local businesses to want to sponsor these sorts of events in return for marketing and you can easily sell advertising space. The more guests you have, the more businesses will pay. 

Unique, innovative events may see some success through crowdfunding or investors, too, and you can sell advanced tickets to drum up an income as mentioned above.

Nonprofits have a few more funding opportunities. These include individual donations, fundraising events, and grants, all of which can take the strain off your budget. 

5. List Your Knowable Expenses

Compile a list of your knowable expenses. It’s wise to do some research for this, either by going into shops or looking up the items on a search engine to get a better idea of current prices. Even if you have a budget from a past event, do a quick Google in case costs have changed. 

Knowable expenses can include:

  • Tables and chairs
  • Tents and canopies
  • Decor items (balloons, posters, flowers etc.)
  • Handout items
  • Prizes
  • Lighting
  • Projectors
  • Stationary

Keep a note of the range of prices available so that you can allocate spending for each item or category in the future. 

6. Shop Around For Quotes

As soon as you have an idea of what your event needs, you can start looking for quotes.

Begin by contacting multiple suppliers and making a note of the prices you’re given. This not only helps you get the best deal but also gives you insight into current market values, understanding the cost landscape for the items/services you’re looking at. Helpful vendors may give you advice on what you need and what you can skip, too, making it easier to cut costs on your quote.

If you have a preference for a company, but they’re charging too much, give them evidence of cheaper quotes you’ve received and see if you can bring them down using a little negotiating skill.

Some of the initial quotes to look into include:

  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Insurance
  • Event technology
  • Entertainment
  • Staff
  • Security

6. Decide Where to Cut Back

You don’t have an unlimited amount of money to spend on your event, so it’s important you know where to spend and where to save. As you go through your list, you may even find that there are items you can completely cut out.

For example, if your catering costs are too high, you could always skip a sit-down meal and opt for a simple buffet of light refreshments instead. This will allow you to serve high-quality food without blowing through your budget.

7. Always Leave Room for Emergencies

Every professional planner prepares for emergencies. Rather than running your budget down to 0, leave a cushion of between 15-25% for last-minute costs. 

This could be there to cover something you’ve forgotten or a change of plan, like an extra car needed to collect guests. It could be a literal rainy day fund, going towards tents if the weather takes a turn!

8. Make Your Documents Work For Your Team

Your budget needs to be recorded. But, as it can quickly change, you need a document that’s going to evolve as your event does. 

We recommend using a digital tool, like Google Docs, that’ll allow you to share, collaborate, and update files easily. In your budget document, include:

  • Contact names
  • Product/service details
  • Payment deadlines
  • Notes of invoices already paid
  • A running total as you pay costs

Final Words

Planning an event isn’t easy, especially if it’s your first time! These financial planning tips will help take control of your budget and pull off a 5-star event without breaking the bank. For more event planning advice, be sure to take a look at our blog and we’ll help guide you through the rest of the process with our expertise. 

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