Elk NetworkIdeas Worth Sharing: Budgeting for Success

Volunteer News | August 20, 2012

Ideas Worth Sharing: Budgeting for Success

By Steve Bird, Maryland Chapter

Budgeting for your banquet can be a tricky proposition. However, most chapters know on average how much each of their banquet attendees will spend. This number is a great starting point when setting a budget for your upcoming event.

First, take that number (let’s assume $250/attendee) and times it by a conservative estimate on how many people will attend your banquet (let’s assume 100 people). Thus, your proceeds will be $25,000. Because we are good, motivated volunteers we always shoot for 60 percent net to gross. In our example, doing the math tells you that you can spend $10,000 and meet your 60 percent net to gross goal.

But that is only your starting point. In reality, you want our attendees to spend more than $250/person, and you want to have more than 100 people at your banquet. However this formula works for planning purposes and ensures you don’t spend too much money.

Now it’s time to get your spreadsheet ready. As tickets start to arrive, have your committee’s treasurer communicate daily with your ticket chair, entering the appropriate numbers for things such as meals, memberships, pre-banquet raffle ticket packages, etc., into the spreadsheet on a regular, if not daily basis. In addition, add all checks into the check register, and estimate other expenses that you reasonably can, including the cost of 100 meals, estimated cost of split hunts, merchandise splits, vendor direct costs, national merchandise costs and estimates of other local merchandise we may buy. Keep in mind that all of the expenses added together can’t exceed $10,000 based on the scenario above.

Determining your expenses upfront makes it easier to say no to a “good” idea the committee might have in regard to buying something for the banquet. It also allows you to have the discussion, “That’s a great idea, but until we sell 135 tickets to the banquet we can’t afford that.” On the flip side, if your attendee estimates were low, you’ll know exactly how much additional merchandise you can buy to still meet your goal.

The spreadsheet is also a great tool for the chairman, providing he or she with detailed data at any time prior to the banquet as to how many attendees are signed up, how many raffle tickets have been sold, how many life, sponsor, Habitat Partners and regular memberships have been sold, and how many and the amount of cash donations that have been made. Because the finance package spreadsheet recalculates every time an entry is made, it’s easy to track your progress toward your goals.

Come the night before the banquet you will have a great idea of how your banquet will perform because of the goal setting and plans your team executed. At this point you will be comfortable with the outcome before the event happens and the banquet will take care of itself.