“Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”

Benjamin Franklin

It is imperative that you draw up a sensible budget for your event and then manage it meticulously. It does take some investment of time upfront but plays a very helpful part in your event’s organization and financial administration going forward. Of course there will be a few variances along the way but the better researched and more realistic your original budget, the closer it will come out to the final costs.

BE PRUDENT: Money is a finite resource in any business and all spending decisions must be guided by the end in mind. Unless you draw up a tight budget with a clarity of objectives, events can be a black hole for financial outlay. Unrestrained expenditure is not what makes an event successful; it is how you spend the money that determines the achievement of your objectives from the event.


The amount of money, from within your means, that needs to be spent on an event depends on the value you want to get out of the event. Business events are always organized for a business reason and must be able to deliver financial value. Define parameters for the return on investment (ROI) from an event and monitor the performance.

ETSIMATE THE BUDGET: Events are a balancing act between the budget and the objectives. The first step is to determine how much money you can allocate to an event so that you can start planning and budgeting according to the funds available. If you are creative, you can always make an event work within any realistic budget. Most memorable events I go to are where the organizers have thought carefully about how to make the most of the small things.

KEY COMPONENTS OF AN EVENT’S BUDGET: Once you have a rough idea of the money you can allocate to an event, you need to determine whether the amount will be enough and, if it is, how you are going to spend it. Some of the main areas of an event’s budget are:

Venue: Where an event will be hosted is often the most important part of its planning. Beware of the additional costs in addition to the rent for the venue. These extra costs can include: Extra hours that you want to use the venue for, Power, House crew, etc.

Content: Content is what happens at your event and you need to budget for its cost. For example, if you are planning an interactive experience, its cost needs to be included. Content is an area that invites creativity to keep costs low.

Entertainment: Entertainment costs vary hugely and you need to be very sure that your ideas can be accommodated within the budget you have at hand. Take into account all costs -fees, transport, lodging etc.- associated with the artists and the performance.

Lights, Acoustics, and Staging:
party rentalsThe costs of light and sound system are also an essential component of most events. Such costs are heavily influenced by your venue and what it includes. The costs of the set and staging also need to be ascertained for being added to the budget.

Furniture: You need furniture for your guests, for the ceremonies involved, and for the back of house needs of an event. How much this costs varies with what the venue can provide. Sometimes you may need to source furniture from outside.

Food & Beverages: Catering forms a core element of most events’ budget. You can either hire an all-in supplier or arrange in parts for ingredients, tableware, equipment, and servers. Most venues offer these services in-house.

Security: In case security measures in addition to what is offered by the venue are warranted, their costs need to determined and included in the budget.

Branding: Whatever the nature of the event, your brand needs to stand out at it. Even at the most basic events, having your logo around the event makes an impact.

Marketing: Every event needs to be marketed to make sure that the targeted audience knows about it. However, marketing costs can vary vastly based on the type and scale of an event.

Workforce: Whether you employ internal employees or external hires for organizing an event, it does mean cost for the business. For external hires, find out if they want you to bear any other charges in addition to their daily rates.

Miscellaneous: Take care to estimate and account for all ancillary costs -such as insurance, permit fees, transport, fuel etc.-  associated with an event.

Contingencies: Keep about 10% of your budget available for contingencies. Unforeseen expenses may arise, especially at the last minute.


spending wisely

Focus on the practical things first before allocating any of your budget on nice-to-haves. In order to be able to buy well, it is important to shop around. Generally, asking for three quotes should suffice to give you a fair sense of the prevailing range and prices for a product or service. Make sure you brief the suppliers to ensure that their quotes cover all the aspects you require so that, especially in terms of services, you end up comparing like with like. Agree the payment terms with the suppliers. Have a good grasp on your cash flow to ensure that you have sufficient funds to pay various suppliers you use for your event.

MINDING CONTRACTS: You do not need a contract for every supplier but purchasing for an event can entail signing up a number of contracts. You do not necessarily need legal advice, especially if you do not have an in-house lawyer, but you must read all contracts you are signing. For example, reading the contract you sign with the venue may provide you with some useful information for planning your event. Don’t be reluctant to go back to your suppliers for the terms you see as troublesome or you don’t understand. Keep copies of all the papers you sign. When you want to go with a quote, make sure you have it in writing. When you have to divulge some confidential information to any of the suppliers, make sure that you get them to sign an NDA (Non-disclosure Agreement).

FINDING SPONSORSHIPS: You can find sponsors to invest money in your events in exchange for brand publicity or an engagement with the audience. However, you have to be clear what you can offer to a sponsor in return for their investment in your event and then create a sponsorship articulating your offer and the benefit to the sponsors. You can also find sponsors who provide something in return for their association with your event. Such a sponsor can offer their products at special discounts or offer special promotions to your guests. Consider trying to allure brands who you would like to be seen associated with your event. Industry bodies are also a good source of sponsorships.

REVENUE OPPORTUNTIES: Options for generating revenue from your event depend on the nature of the event and what the audience is likely to accept. For example, if your event has enough of a pull, you can consider selling tickets. By selling tickets to an event you can also control numbers as well as ensure attendance because people are more likely to turn up if they have paid even a small amount for the tickets. In case you allow bar sales at your event, you can negotiate a share of the bar sales. If your event has a strong brand, you can generate revenue by selling the items such as T-shirts or phone covers with the event’s branding. Another idea is to sell a book that rhymes with your audience and get a fee for each book sold from the publisher.


(For help with your event please write to us at [email protected])


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