Your Event Budget: 3 Ways to Measurable Success

Your Event Budget: 3 Practical Ways To Measurable Success

7 min read
Why is budgeting fundamentally important for successful event management?
Because planning, tracking and evaluating all expenditure helps you make sound strategic decisions to achieve event objectives and maximise the return on investment (ROI). It also helps you avoid any costly budget blowouts.

The 1-2-3 of Smart Event Budgets


To stay organised and keep within budget you’ll need a smart process that covers the three key phases of event budgeting:

  1. Plan – line by line forecasting of expected costs
  2. Control – tracking actual vs planned costs
  3. Evaluate – measuring ROI and gaining insights for future event planning

Your Event Budget: 3 Practical Ways To Measurable Success #events #budgets #bestpractice Click To Tweet

1. Plan

Check Affordability

At the planning stage, it’s important to check the proposed event is affordable. The only way to do this is by estimating all potential event costs.

Naturally, you won’t know exact amounts until suppliers provide firm quotations and you sign service contracts. At this point you are looking at best guesstimates.

Here’s a list of key budget items to consider, taken from our favourite download (and soon to be yours too) of the Event Budget Template

  • Venue
  • AV/Lighting/Staging
  • Catering
  • MC/Speaker
  • Entertainment
  • Marketing
  • Miscellaneous
  • Contingency

Free Download

Use the ultimate Event Budget Template to plan, control and evaluate your event like a pro


Avoid Overspending

Sometimes, colleagues and even bosses get a little excited and want to throw their 20 cents’ worth into the event mix:

  • “Let’s get Sir Bob Geldof as guest speaker!”
  • “We could have VIPs arriving in helicopters!”

With a holistic view of the budget, you can advise if these fabulous ideas are affordable, let alone well-pitched for your audience. At the end of the day, the egg will be on your face if the budget blows out so you need to be on top of the money at all times.

If your #event #budget blows out, the egg will be on your face. Avoid that gooey mess at Click To Tweet
Think Strategically

Planning your budget allows you to think strategically about how you allocate funds. It all comes down to event goals and audience tastes, and prioritising expenditure accordingly.

Organising a gala dinner for the plumbing industry? Hiring the right comedian would take priority over elaborate, expensive table decorations and Barossa’s best Cab Sav.

On the other hand, a similar event for senior barristers and law firm partners might warrant the investment in top-notch food and wine.

Plan for the Unplanned

Wise event professionals put a bit of ‘fat’ into their budget, known as contingency planning.

Unseasonably bad weather might require marquee hire, or a sponsor could pull out at the last minute, leaving an unanticipated gap in the coffers. The contingency ‘fat’ will have you covered.

As a guide, include 10-15% of the total budget to allow for unexpected costs or things going wrong.

2. Control

Make Sound Financial Choices

Controlling your budget means recording costs once agreed with suppliers, and keeping a check on planned vs actual expenditure. Because you’ve done the planning up front it’s far easier to make sound, affordable choices for entertainment, MCs, speakers, venue, staffing and catering, to name a few of the bigger ticket items.


Did you say you don’t have an event budget template?

Never mind, we have the perfect one right here!


You’ll save big chunks of time by not needing to make calculations over and over before you make decisions, because it’s all right there for you in your nifty budget.

Clarifying your main objective helps you make the right decisions about the event format, mood, theme, venue and, of course, which roving act will help you totally rock it.

Manage the Moving Feast

Many things can change throughout the event’s lifecycle. Variations can range from minor tweaks to bigger costs, or possibly even bonuses in the form of unexpected revenue sources.

Perhaps a sponsor will come on board, meaning you have more money to spend on that fabulous 80s band. The cost of rigging ceiling decorations may be more than expected. Faulty equipment might mean a last minute dash to Officeworks for a new projector.

Unfortunately things can go wrong, and often it’s out of your control. A robust budgeting system allows you to handle any variations swiftly and efficiently, because you can see at a glance where you have surplus and deficit, adjusting line items accordingly.

Avoid Underspending

While we don’t advocate spending money just because you have it, there is such a thing as ‘undercooking’ it and not investing sufficiently. Your guests may be less than impressed by the pedestrian catering when in fact your budget could have stretched to something superior.

You may also have your budget slashed for subsequent events if it appears you didn’t require the funds this time around, so don’t do your budget the disservice of underspending! Good budgeting avoids this scenario because you’re always tracking overall spend.

3. Evaluate

Upon completion, it’s always wise practice to evaluate the success of the event and identify areas for improvement. Assessing budget is an important part of this process and should be used to ascertain return on investment (ROI) and inform the successful planning of future events.

To assess your ROI, you’ll need to establish some baseline measures of what the event is seeking to achieve. Examples of event goals and relevant measures:

  • Build brand awareness (No. of attendees)
  • Close sales (No. of sales)
  • Conduct market research (No. of surveys completed)
  • Add new prospects to your email list (No. of new prospects)
  • Generate qualified sales leads (No. of new sales leads)

Save Time and Be Even More Efficient

The amount of time you’ll save by carrying out the three stages of planning, controlling and evaluating is another big upside. If you’re in event management, you’re probably already very organised. Although we understand that smooth operators like you are always on the lookout for even more efficiency…

Good #eventprofs are always on the lookout for more efficiency when planning. Here are 3 big tips... Click To Tweet

Spare time is something you don’t have a lot of, right? Chances are you’re also a creative type, and getting bogged down in spreadsheet calculations isn’t the best use of your time. Luckily the Event Budget Template (one of my personal favourites) fits the bill for smart, efficient budgeting, having been purpose built for event managers:

  • Easy to use
  • Pre-filled with standard (and some special) event budget items
  • Suitable for all event types
  • Free to download and use

Just plug in your event costs here and bingo! The calculations are done for you.

It enables you to perform the three crucial budgeting steps of planning, controlling and evaluating quickly and efficiently, so anytime your boss says:

  • “Show me the money!!!!”

You’ll reply, with total confidence:

    “Sure, here you go!”

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About the Author

Gav George

When his school music teacher loaned him a cassette tape (yes, he's that old) of a fusion band, Gav entered the jazz world after years of classical music training. He was lucky enough to play with some of the greatest living jazz musicians and toured key festivals. Then Enhance founder Alison Clarke called on Gav to work on the company's marketing. This led him to his new passion of… marketing! Gav oversees Enhance's marketing initiatives, gets a kick out of connecting with clients and unearthing new talent. Gav still has that cassette tape, so if his music teacher reads this, please get in touch so he can return it.

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