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Budgeting for special events

When you're working on your special event budget, you will need to be able to track every dollar and record every decision and retrieve the data promptly when you need it.

The budget for your special event must be

  • Comprehensive,
  • Flexible,
  • Up-to-date, and
  • Fully documented.

Accounting

  • Even if doing your budget on computer or through a software program like Excel, keep records on paper of any significant authorisations.
  • Make sure your filing system can keep track of receipts against cheques. The auditor should be able to backtrack over the entire series of transactions.
  • And if you're taxed, make sure that you can identify any possible deductibles, and keep an eye on which financial year your expenditures and income fall into.

Handling money

  • Money that's been collected needs to be guarded and recorded while it's in your possession before it goes to the bank.
  • Make sure that your office procedures protect cash, accounts, and credit card details appropriately.

Banking

  • Depending on the scale of the event you may need to open a special bank account dedicated to the income and expenditure from this source.
  • Consider setting up a separate cheque account, at least, to isolate special event expenses, and using this account to make all deposits, payments, and reimbursements.

Expenditure and income

  • Include the different categories of expenses and income in a table similar to the one below.

Tendered?
Quoted?
Estimated?
Finalised?
Advertising




Badges




Equipment




Food and Drink




Hospitality




Insurance




Licences




Publications




Risk Management




Speakers




Staff




Sundries




Taxes




Telephones




Transport




Utilities




Venue




Total Expenditure




Ticket Sales




Booth Sales




Memberships




Donations




Activity Income (Auctions, etc)




Item Sales (Publications, Shirts, etc)




Ad Sales (Ads in Program, etc)




Booth Charges (for Third Party Shows, Stalls, etc)




Speakers' Fees




Volunteer Contributions




Total Income




Balance





  • Don't leave blanks; your best guess is better than a refusal to estimate.
  • Include ALL income and expenditure items in the table. Review your list to ensure you don't leave any out and are left with some unpleasant surprises. A good idea may be to set up sub-budgets for each heading and take their totals into the summary budget.

Review

  • Circulate the budget to all the sections and to all people responsible for parts of the whole, so they can (a) understand the big picture and (b) feed in any items you've overlooked.
  • Run an eye over the budget every week, and at every point where a cost or a gain is finalised, to see whether you are on track or in trouble.

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