Create Your Event’s Budget Spreadsheet – Part 2

April 26th, 2011 by Scott Graham

Great meetings and events are managed financially. At Excellent Meetings we help our clients understand the whole event picture. We’ve found that people respond better when we are proactive in delivering honest news, good or bad, rather than allowing a challenge to fester. The more transparent we are with the organizations we assist, the more they appreciate what we bring to their organizations. Periodic reporting and adjustments provide opportunity to develop creative solutions to any arising challenges. If bad news of any type arises, clients appreciate our proactive approach and our openness. Then, if necessary, the planning committee can pivot and make an informed, intelligent decision regarding the issue.

From the start, please understand that a good conference budget should be visited frequently. Though initially an estimate, your event budget will evolve as you track and evaluate EVERYTHING financially. Your budget should be tracking revenue and expenses and allowing for “pop-ups” or contingencies. You will want to provide room for an estimation of revenue and expense, actual numbers as they are available, and the amount of budget remaining. A budget with this much information will go a long way in helping the meeting manager understand the financial position of the meeting. More complex budgets will also categorize costs as fixed, variable or indirect. These cost totals inserted into a formula properly can help determine meeting registration fees, should the event be required to produce a profit or break even.

In the first part of this budgeting series, we suggested that you gather your meeting’s history and its objectives. Armed with this information you are ready to get started.

Create a budget spreadsheet


blank spreadsheet

Fire up your favorite spreadsheet and after adding a heading for your event, divide your spreadsheet into three sections with multiple rows in between:
Spreadsheet title




In each of these sections, you will be listing line-items that are relevant to their sections.

Later, as your budget develops, you may want to include additional sections or tabs that identify more detailed calculations and analysis.


Across the top of each section add columns for:

Item number – How Many

Item Amount – About How Many $$

Budget (Estimate) – This is a Calculation of [Item Number x Item Amount]

Actual – What it really costs

Remaining Budget – How much is left? This is a calculation of [Budget – Actual]

Comments – Any notes or comments concerning this line item

Column Headers
Your budget may not require all of these items. Other columns you may consider adding:

Previous Year(s) Actual, Forecast and Other +/- Calculations.

Though this process may be a little overwhelming initially, the event manager will discover it is well worth the time and effort. Your meeting budget is key to arriving at your meeting’s goal. Events that are managed financially become Excellent Meetings.

In future posts, we’ll examine the types of revenue and expense line-items you will be including in your budget.

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