Budgeting and financial planning are crucial processes in event management, serving as essential indicators for assessing the viability of an event.
A well-planned budget enables ongoing financial monitoring, helps evaluate expenditure decisions, and identifies necessary income or funding sources.
An event budget can be utilised as a checklist to ensure important event components have been considered and/or organised. It is essential to figure out every moving part of your event that could incur a cost (expenditure) and how much money you require to pay for it (income).
- To determine the viability of your event, develop a preliminary budget that projects revenue, estimates expenses, and identifies the breakeven point. This assessment provides insights into the event's financial feasibility.
Building Your Budget
- Create a list of all expected expenditure items and potential income sources. This list will vary depending on event size and type.
- Allocate an estimated cost per expenditure item – Organize your budget by categorizing expenditure items, such as venue-related expenses, marketing costs, personnel/staff fees, logistics, catering, health and safety, entertainment, and permits/licenses.
- Allocate an estimated potential income for each expected source – consider which of these are secured (income is confirmed and/or received) and unsecured (income that is anticipated but not yet confirmed). Income sources may include: sponsorship, funds/grants, ticket sales, registration/entry fees, exhibitors/vendors site sales, merchandise sales, advertising sales.
- Obtain quotes where possible, from a few different businesses, so the budget is accurate and the cost-efficient option is found. Funders often require quotes when allocating grants.
- Consider negotiating with vendors or suppliers to potentially lower costs or secure discounts. Effective negotiation can help you stay within budget and maximize resources.
- When receiving quotes, check if costs are GST inclusive or exclusive, as if not included, 15% will need to be added to the cost.
- Check out the list of Event Budgeting tips and guides in our Useful Links section below for more information and budget templates.
Allow for the Unexpected
- Set goals/targets and track your progress – a budget is a moving target, however it is important to set realistic goals, review and update them throughout the event planning journey.
- Include two columns (Estimate and Actual) in your budget for the expenditure and income financials. As you spend money, enter in the Actual column – this will help keep you on track. If you overspend on some items, you can look to make savings on items not yet purchased.
- Include a contingency fund (at least 5% of your budget) for any unforeseen expenses. A contingency fund provides a safety net and allows you to handle unexpected costs without jeopardizing the event's financial stability.
- Clearly define which party (event organizer or performers) is responsible for performer travel and associated costs and include those expenses in the budget, if applicable.
- Calculating estimated income from ticket sales can be tricky particularly when you have different-priced tickets. Calculate the outcomes of different ticket sales scenarios - for example: Optimistic (100% of tickets sold), Likely (55% of tickets sold), and Pessimistic (25% of tickets sold). With these three scenarios, if the budget is formulated correctly, you will be able to see the revenue for each scenario.
- Include a ticket allocation for promotional activities such as competition giveaways or sponsor tickets to enhance event visibility and engagement.
Diversify Your Income
- Consider additional sources of income outside ticket sales and sponsorship such as:
- Merchandise sales – offer attendees/participants a souvenir or provide additional benefits to sponsors through event-branded merchandise. Be aware of branding changes, for example, if you have bought 3 years worth of merchandise, ensure that your logos (or your sponsors) don’t change during that time.
- Exhibitors/vendor site sales – having hospitality or retail sites adds value to the event and provides a revenue source by way of a fee paid by stall holders.
- Funding and grants – prepare and apply for event funding and grants as they can help financially and assist with promotion of the event. Learn more about this on our Event Funding page
- Donations – Explore crowd-funding platforms to raise money for your event. While not a traditional source, individual donations are becoming more popular.
Event budgeting tips and guides
- Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Event Budget (guidebook.com)
- The Complete Guide to Creating a Budget for an Event (Eventtia)
- cvent | Event Budgeting Guide (cvent)
- Event Budgeting: How To Create an Event Budget | (Eventbrite)
Event budgeting and forecasting tools
Event budget templates
- Event Budget Template spreadsheet – Spreadsheet containing different event budget templates for a variety of events.
- The All-In-One Event Budget Template (hopin.com)
Accounting advice & software
- Accounting for non-accountants (Sport New Zealand)- PDF starting at the basics of accounting for a business or event.
- MYOB paid accounting software MYOB Accounting Software
- Xero paid accounting software Accounting software | Xero NZ
Have you considered?
- Have you considered GST in your expenses? Does your event need to be GST registered? Find out more on our GST, Taxes and Levies page.
- Do you need Event Insurance? Have you budgeted for this?
- Are employee contracts required for the different personnel involved within the event? Have you considered income tax, employer contributions and PAYE in your budget?
- Permit and Licensing Fees - Research and account for any permits or licenses required for the event, such as alcohol licenses, music licensing, or permits for temporary structures.
- Equipment Rental - Consider any equipment or technology rentals needed for the event, such as audiovisual equipment, staging, lighting, sound systems, or generators.
- Factor in transportation costs for staff, attendees, participants, or performers where necessary.
- Waste management - do you need to account for waste removal costs?
- Professional services such as photographers, designers, consultants need to be budgeted for.
- Will there be costs associated with accessibility? Wheelchair ramps, toilets etc.
- Volunteer expenses - keeping your team fed is a cost that needs to be budgeted for if applicable.
- General overheads - office rent, software costs etc.