It’s rare to find someone who loves managing their event budget. Especially for large and complex events, event budgeting can feel like a necessary evil. But there are strategies you can use to keep everything in check, get more out of your budget, and enjoy the end results you see from your new planning and processes.

Start the budgeting process early

If you want to determine whether your event is going to be feasible, putting together a rough budget is key. Borrow figures from past similar events to establish a baseline. Fill in the gaps with educated guesses and do your research. But be careful not to spend too long on this stage – after all, it’s a rough first draft.

Once you’ve put a budget together, you can run it past your clients and your boss for the green light. That way, if the event proceeds, you’ve already got a working document in place to update as you move forward.

Update your event budget regularly

It’s way too easy to misplace receipts or quotes, which is why it’s so important to spend a little time on your budget every day. Make it a habit to dedicate at least 10 minutes daily to update your budget. This way you can stay on top of new developments in real-time, rather than letting things pile up in a discouraging heap.

Excel is a great tool to use to create an event expense sheet. It helps you stay on top of your budget, organise information, and easily collaborate with colleagues on the same spreadsheet. Make sure your event budget excel sheet is populated with the most recent data so that your team can be across the board and it’s client-ready if a submission needs to be made.

Get multiple quotes from vendors

Research helps you stay competitive and is a key negotiation tool. Always get a minimum of three quotes for any event you’re planning. Even if you have a vendor that you like to work with, chances are they will price-match a competitor to keep your business. Remember to add quotes to your budget as they come in, so you have an accurate record for reference.

Don’t just go ahead and accept the first price. Negotiation is one of the most important skills an event planner can develop, so exercise it often. Even when a vendor or venue can’t lower their quote, they might be able to throw in something else – like an additional entrée option or free parking for event staff.

Plan for the unexpected

It’s quite likely your business has been affected by COVID-19, at least by bigger spends on hygiene measures and fewer ticket sales due to social distancing regulations. You should have a contingency figure in your event expense sheet to provide a buffer if you need to cancel your event or change the date. Working some leeway into your budget gives you enough breathing room to absorb unexpected costs. You might need to add to your AV order or incur additional expenses. This is especially important if your event is outdoors or if you have unforeseen event marketing costs at the last minute.

How much should you plan on? Depending on your event type, between 5 and 25 percent. Remember that your buffer will change throughout the life cycle of your event.

Find additional sources of income

Be inventive with sponsorship revenue and other revenue streams. Don’t just offer your sponsors a generic bronze, silver, or gold package. Proactively work together and brainstorm with your sponsor to find out what they want to achieve and collaborate with them to provide a valuable partnership. You can use this event sponsorship workbook and guide to value your sponsorship packages compared to market rates.

Another great way to save money? Piggybacking on other events. Talk to your venue and see if there’s a similar event happening. Reach out to the organiser of that event to see if you can schedule yours for the day before or after, so you can share costs for things like AV equipment.

Become a spreadsheet ninja

When setting up your budget document, make sure to include all income and expenditure. Don’t leave out any item of expense or forget to add details like a staff member renting a car. Be sure to set targets early on, including how many tickets to sell, how much sponsorship revenue generated, and how much percentage of the budget you saved compared to the previous year.

Use formulas (again, Excel is great for this) for things like total income, total expenditure, and part payment. This can help you save time and makes it easier to see current profit or loss in real-time as you update your budget. Put these principles into practice with our free event budget template and take your event to the next level with event management software.