How to Justify an Event Budget to Your Boss

Recently, the annual US-based CareerCast research gave the role of event coordinator a stress score of 51.15. For anyone not following the made up numbers of one research group, this ranking qualifies as highly stressful. Additionally, event coordinator ranked fifth overall in terms of most stressful jobs in the US. Conclusion? Being an event coordinator is not only a high-octane job but it’s also pretty stressful. But that isn’t really news to anyone who has been in the industry. What can we do about all this stress? We can at least try to enjoy the events we painstakingly produce.

One of the most stressful tasks for event coordinators is justifying a budget to your manager. Here are some key steps to alleviate some of your stress:

1. Do Not Fear the Spreadsheet

Come armed with facts and figures that show the benefit of adopting your proposed budget and your event. Even a simple spreadsheet with metrics like budget per person and optional costs to improve the event will make it easy to see what value is gained from spending money. Your manager will love having hard numbers to base a decision on and it prepares them to go to bat for you if anyone else questions the budget.
Plus, having a spreadsheet for your budget lets you easily track any changes, report on whether you were over or under budget after the event, and with a little Excel knowhow you can create dynamic graphs and charts to explain the budget to any visual learners on your team.

Here’s an example of a simple, yet effective event budget template.

2. Give Your Budget a Reality Check

After spending a lot of time on a project, we can miss what might be obvious flaws. Take an objective look at your budget proposal before submitting it. Ask yourself:

  • Will this budget realistically lead to the event I want?
  • Will this budget improve team morale and enjoyment?
  • Does my budget reflect my team’s desires or only a portion of the group?
  • If I were approving my budget, what questions would I have?

Try to anticipate any questions your manager will have so that you’re not caught in the moment trying to explain why it’s a must to have unicycle fire-juggling talent at the next company offsite.

3. Know the ROI of Your Event

Beyond just knowing your estimated costs you should know the impact and value of those costs. Sometimes spending an extra $50, $100, or $5,000 is completely reasonable. But you need to be able to justify why every dollar is spent the way it is.

Will spending an extra $10 per employee mean that everyone leaves the event with a rad memento of the event? Probably worth it.

Knowing the return on investment also gives you leverage to negotiate a higher budget. If you can communicate the positive impact of spending a bit more for a way better experience, you’ll be one step closer to throwing your dream event.

4. Practice Your Pitch

Be sure to practice what you’re going to say! The last thing you want to do is look unprepared when presenting your budget. Who wants to sign off on a poorly planned and questionably valuable project?

Your pitch should concisely communicate how your proposed budget will benefit the company. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just crystal clear and easily understood. Make it simple to say, “YES!

Preparation isn’t one size fits all. If you can get a friend to listen to your pitch and offer feedback, that’s great. Some people just need to review their notes in their head, but they have notes. Some of us are striking power poses in the bathroom while repeating our daily mantras about how amazing we are. Do what works for you, but do something.

Getting your budget approved boils down to knowing what you want, why you want it, and how to explain it. You’ve got this. Go plan your next killer offsite with your bullet-proof budget in hand!