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Plan by Percent

By Kayla

Budgeting can be one of the most frustrating parts of planning events.  People hear the word budget and instantly think of restrictions, but they are actually meant to be used as a roadmap.  They guide the money to the correct spot that ensures staying within the means.  For an event, this is so important because it is other people’s money being mapped.

In personal budgeting, there is a 50/30/20 formula for spending.  It simply gives what percent each area of your budget should take from the income.  50% for needs, such as utilities, housing and food.  30% for wants, such as vacations, dining out, and entertainment.  The final 20% is for saving.  After those things, all the income is accounted for in spending, equaling 100%.

Event budgeting should work the same way.  But before we divvy that out, let’s look at where to get that starting number (a.k.a. income).  For the personal budget, this is easy, because you generally know how much your paychecks will be.  For events, the number will vary based on participants, so you must be ready to adjust as the registration rolls in. 

The primary source of income will be from the participants’ registration costs.  But this is a number you will have to figure out.  If you have an idea/goal for guest numbers, that is a good place to start.  Try making 3 budgets based on different guest counts to give yourself the most wiggle room.  Venues like CRN properties will give you the cost per attendee.  BUT that number does not include other expenses like travel and speakers.  Remember that the more guests, the cheaper a flat rate (like a speaker or band fee) will be per person.  However, things like travel will go up the more people you have.

Your organization may also have a set amount they are willing to put toward the event.  Ask your church leaders if there is a section of the church budget that is allocated for events.

Now, to split up the expenses.  We can use the same idea for an event as the personal budget. 

What are your needs?  Venue and food should be at the top of the list.  Lodging if your event is multiple days.  These are the absolute basics that your event cannot happen without.  Think about the reason for having an event.  This can help determine the necessary aspects to reach your event goals. 

What are your wants?  Think about this as things you would consider “extras”.  SWAG and decorations are things that make events cool, but they aren’t crucial to make it happen.  While recreation is crucial (because guests need a little fun) look at options to maximize the budget.  For example, if the budget is getting stretched a little thin, drop the extra cost recreation and go for basic activities that are included at the venue.

What is saving?  While the personal formula refers to savings for things like retirement, in the event it would be best to think about it for compensated payments through your organization.  For example, youth retreats that require chaperones often comp part or all of the cost for the chaperones because they are volunteering their time to work at the event.  Others offer discounts/scholarships for certain attendees, whether due to early registration or other incentive. 

This budget is only effective if it is finished.  That means adjusting and tracking expenses right up until the last payment is made in real time.  Otherwise, it is just a piece of paper with some numbers on it.  And trust me, it will look way different after your event than it did when you first wrote it down.  But that is okay as long as you are flexible.  If one area gets a little costly, then a different area loses some in order to balance out.  But in the end, the costs and income should subtract to equal 0.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 

Luke 14:28-30

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Based at Lake Williamson / PO Box 620 / Carlinville, IL 62626