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Why creating a Budget for your event is so important

14 Feb 2024

A critical part of the event planning process, and one that should be done very early on is budgeting. Once your club has decided on an effective budget you can rely on, appropriate decisions and adjustments can be made throughout the process if necessary.

Budgets can be overwhelming for many but in essence they are very simple. Listing your event’s needs and expenses and then looking at the different methods of income you plan to have.

A budget must be prepared and then even more importantly, continually referred to. This allows event organisers to identify items which are to be covered by sponsorship/donations and to manage the events income and expenditure.

Yes setting a budget can be a big job when you break down all the costs to consider but it is also imperative for the success of your event. The last thing you want for your club is for everyone to put work into an event, only to find it has actually cost your club money. With this in mind, we need to ensure we develop a budget early.

Identifying your Expenses

The first step in your budgeting process is to identify your expenses. Once you have an idea on how much you need to spend, you can then source appropriate grants/sponsorship and will be able to set a realistic entry price.

Event costs will depend on the scale and type of event. Not all the categories below will apply to every event and there may be additional categories not mentioned. These will certainly get your list started:

  • Travel and accommodation – are dignitaries attending where you should pay for these?
  • Trophies, medals and awards – what do participants receive, do you want them dated?
  • Salaries – is there any paid staff involved in staging the event?
  • Postage – what items need to be sent out, such as a race number?
  • Telephone usage – will the volunteers be reimbursed for using their phones?
  • Stationery – pens, highlighters, paper, how much will you spend?
  • Photocopying and printing – registration forms, accident/incident forms, marketing.
  • Medical fees – do you have an appropriately first aid trained volunteer or do you need to outsource this and what supplies will you need to purchase?
  • Venue hire – what is the cost of the venue, the bond?
  • Insurances – public liability, volunteer insurance?
  • Promotion – flyers, posters, Facebook and website costs
  • Equipment hire – what equipment do you need to hire? What does the venue already have? What can you borrow?
  • Transport – shuttle service for participants, do volunteers get reimbursed for travelling?
  • Security – are you setting up the day before and need the ground to be secured, do you expect to have a lot of cash on site and need an organisation to collect it such as Armaguard?

These are a few of the common costs clubs need to consider. Depending on the size of the event, some events will involve hundreds of items, others far less.

Methods of Income

Once you have identified your expenses, your club will then need to look at how it will make income from the event. Some methods to consider include:

  • What sponsorship will you obtain?
  • What government grants are available to you?
  • Will you be charging a gate entry fee for spectators? If a gate entry fee is set, will this deter people from attending or is it a standard practice amongst the community/your sport?
  • What amount will you charge participants to enter the event? Ensure you research what other similar events charge so you don’t set a price too high and no one attends but you don’t set it to low where you won’t be able to at least break even.
  • Will there be merchandise or club gear sold on the day, is there a mark-up?
  • Are you selling food and beverages, or having a BBQ?
  • Are you having a raffle or other fundraising activities?

Once you have set your methods of income, now, what are your projected amounts of income?

For example, by running the BBQ:
We need to buy: 20 loaves of bread at $30.00, $300 worth of sausages, 3 bottles of sauce for $12, napkins at $5 and a $30 gas bottle for the BBQ. We will borrow the utensils required, a BBQ and cleaning products. The total expense on the BBQ is $377, however selling 450 sausages at $2.00 each is $900. Less the expense of $377, profit is $523.

Upon working out your methods and projected income you can identify if there is a shortage of funds. Then, you can revisit your event expectations and determine whether it is possible to scale down the event or if a change in the overall approach is necessary.

Presenting your budget to the committee for review and approval
Once your budget for the event has been prepared it should be presented to the committee for review and approval. It is amazing how many events do not prepare a budget and don’t realise that their event was destined to always lose money or not raise the funds expected. Not all events are established to make money for the club but you certainly don’t want them costing the club more than expected.

For larger events the organising sub committee may be required to present financial reports to the club committee to continually update them on how the event is progressing. The club committee should be given enough financial information to allow it to continually be reviewing the financial status of the event to ensure everything is on track and if it is not ensure corrective action is taken.