Creating an event budget can be a daunting task. From the venue rental to the catering menu to the A/V package, there are lots of expenses to account for. And while it may be tempting to start signing vendor contracts without a set budget, it won’t set your corporate event up for success.
This guide will show you how to approach your budget in phases to alleviate stress and help better estimate overall costs for your event.
Before you can determine your event budget, you need to lay the foundation for your corporate event. To do this, you should take these steps:
Are you hosting a company-wide retreat with $10,000 to spend? A fundraising gala with a $200,000 budget? A quarterly meeting with a $2,000 budget? Whatever it may be, it helps to define the type of corporate event and the loose budget, which may be set by a manager, finance department, or be part of a larger budget. This allows you to design your specific event around available resources and not the other way around.
Past events offer a lot of data and information when creating a budget for your next event. You can evaluate the areas you over or underspent on to make the appropriate adjustments this time around.
Your high-level event plan should outline your event goals and basic logistics. As these items start coming together, you can include rough budget estimates. It’s helpful to list out the items that are must-haves, including:
This list and loose pricing will allow you to have a better projection of the total expenses.
With these rough numbers, you’re ready to share a projected budget with key stakeholders. This is to ensure they are not only aware of the budget, but approve of it. The earlier you’re able to secure this, the better to eliminate any confusion or surprises down the road.
Once you have a high-level plan and rough budget in mind, you can refine your individual line items with more details.
With your high-level items listed, you can scout for appropriate vendors for your specific needs.
Take a look at your entire list and break items down into more refined categories, when possible. For example, “Venue” can be further defined as: venue rental, equipment rental, WiFi, venue-specific staff and security. This will help you be more granular and precise.
As you build out your detailed list of line items, be sure to include vendor proposals and quotes. These up-to-date numbers will help you identify the right choice for each area of your budget. You can then enter into formal agreements and contracts for the event.
At the end of this stage, you should have built out a complete list of your expected line items with attached costs.
As you select your final location and vendors, things become real. You’re signing contracts and making payments. The next step is to actualize your budget and ensure you’re staying within it!
With payments made, you can now track your actual spend against your projected spend.
It’s helpful to see these numbers side by side as it gives you complete visibility into how your line items are adding up against your total budget.
When you think your budget is completely set, add one more line item – a contingency fund. Depending on the size or complexity of an event, you may want to give yourself up to 20% of the event budget here.
This fund ensures you’re prepared to handle any changes or additional expenses that may cause you to exceed projected plans. Just remember to get stakeholder approval of this!
If you’ve been diligently tracking your spending, this is an easy one! After your event is over, you should revisit your budget and contracts to ensure you’re squared up on all financial obligations.
You should also ensure every single cost is reflected in your budget. Once you have a comprehensive view, you can turn those numbers into valuable takeaways.
It’s time to face your total. Whether you are using a budgeting software that will tally up your line items for you or are doing it manually with a spreadsheet, determine your final and total amount spent.
This number will not only be shared with your stakeholders, but will be helpful in measuring overall outcomes from your event.
Did you have any savings? If so, this will help you tighten up future budgets and give you a positive to highlight when reporting to key stakeholders.
Were there any overages? If so, you may want to investigate the reason. It could be because you under-budgeted for a given line item or incurred additional expenses with the vendor.
Analyzing your budget immediately following your event will make it easier for you to plan and make adjustments for future events.
Planning a corporate event is overwhelming enough! But you can take stress out of budgeting by taking a phased approach that will set you up for success every step of the way. Plus, St. Bonavenue offers on-site services that immediately streamline your vendor needs and consolidates pricing. Let’s connect on your event today!
Download “A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Event Budget” as a PDF for easy reference or printing.Download PDF