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How to Create an Event Budget

Create Your Event Budget Template With These 5 Questions

If you’re creating a budget from scratch for your event, an empty spreadsheet can seem quite overwhelming. And more often than not, trying to fit your event’s finances into an outdated budget template from the internet makes your life more complicated rather than less. In order to create a budget, you’ll need a template with your events exact budget parameters in mind. Fortunately for you by asking yourself the following questions it’ll become very easy to create your own event budget template.

Here are five questions to ask to turn an empty spreadsheet from daunting to comforting.

1. What Are You Budgeting For?

The first step to creating your own event budget template is to specify the needs of the event you’re organizing. Defining the focus areas of your event will help you prioritize your spending and invest in the stuff that really matters. When you’re creating your event budget template, break out your major spending categories.

For example, you might include things like:

  • Venue
  • Decor
  • Staffing
  • Programming
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Technology
  • Travel costs

A budget for an industry conference might have a lot of line items under “technology” and “programming.” A budget for a fundraiser might be more heavily weighted toward “marketing” items. Use different colors to shade your spreadsheet so you can see at a glance which line items belong in which categories. Once you have your overarching categories defined, you can start to drill down and fill in the costs.

2. What Are Your Exact Costs?

Whether you’re budgeting a brand new event or one you’ve been running for years, you should have a baseline for what you need to spend money on. Walk yourself through the lifecycle of your event. What line items do you need under each category?

For example, under Venue, you might have things like:

  • Rental cost
  • Lighting equipment
  • Security staff
  • Catering (if it’s an included option)

Always be sure to get multiple quotes from venues, even if you’re partial to a particular one. Some vendors are open to negotiation if they know you could book elsewhere for less. Never accept a price at face value; always negotiate. Remember, be as specific as you can with line items on a budget. Don’t be tempted to lump things like “food and alcohol” together. You may be sourcing them from different vendors. Some budgets can’t budge; others have a little wiggle room. Know what kind you’re dealing with.

Typical budgets have two columns for cost:

  • Projected cost (filled in now)
  • Actual cost (filled in later)

The better your research, the more these two columns will match. But you don’t necessarily have to have a final price to pencil a figure into your budget. You can always go back and update your numbers later.

3. What’s Your Projected Event Revenue?

In addition to knowing what you’ll spend, your event budget includes what you’ll make. Depending on the type of event, this might include revenue from tickets, sponsors, vendors, or donations. Some of these sources of income will vary. For example, you don’t know for sure how many tickets you’ll sell. But you should have realistic targets and a plan for how to get there. We suggest inputing estimates and going back to tweak them when the numbers solidify. If there’s money in the budget from your last event that wasn’t spent, consider if you want to include it in this event’s funding.

4. Are There Unknown Variables to Work Into Your Event Budget Template?

Always have a contingency plan for the unexpected. Whether it’s because you incur a fee for a late payment, or cleanup costs are higher than you thought, things go wrong. We suggest adding in an extra 5-25% for surprise expenses. The worst thing that will happen is you’ll end up with a buffer in your bank. You should also create due dates into your event budget template, know exactly when to pay things so they don’t rack up late fees. Keep in mind the worst case scenario: if something could make you cancel the event for unforeseeable reasons. Make sure you know exactly how much a cancellation will cost you. That number should include money you spend up front that can’t be recouped along with any cancellation fees and refunds.

5. Could You Make Your Budgeting Easier with Technology?

Apps and other technology tools that help automate budgeting tasks don’t just make your job easier. They can also give you a more accurate financial picture.

For example:

  • Social-media marketing tools can maximize your social media reach and help you sell more tickets online. They also pinpoint exactly where ticket sales are coming from, so you can break out your revenue accurately on your event budget template.

There are plenty of other technology tools out there to help you spend your money where it counts, which in turn helps you create a more efficient and accurate event budget template.



We hope you found this post helpful when planning your next event budget. Remember for quality service and affordable rates contact us at O’Connell Gardens for your next event!

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