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.
  • 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.
Tendered? Quoted? Estimated? Finalised?
Advertising
Badges
Equipment
Food and drink
Hospitality
Insurance
Licenses
Publications
Risk management
Speaker
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

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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