Create A Budget – Like Nailing Jello To A Tree

No matter what type of event you’re planning – it’s success or failure all boils down to creating a realistic, workable budget. This dynamic document is the blueprint for your event but doesn’t occur without a lot of thought and the coordination of a lot of details. It’s dynamic because you can start off with a pretty basic, barebones budget, but as those details become apparent, and you start putting in actual numbers, it will continue to evolve until you finally have a document that can be relied upon as a useful guide.

A good chairperson or treasurer can (and should!) keep committees updated monthly or bi-weekly with where you stand financially against the budget. This not only keeps everyone on track, but can motivate them to pick up the pace in areas that need focus i.e.   program ads, sponsorships etc.

So where to start? Let’s take a class reunion as an example since we all get sucked into those at some point! (actually, no one should ever miss a class reunion – I think they are FABULOUS) You have no idea how many classmates or spouses are going to respond, you have no idea what things will cost and so, you have no idea how to set up a ticket price for attendees.  This is where you should find an event planner in your class and pay them for their expertise! But, let’s assume you don’t have that luxury and simply have a group of 5 people that have jumped in to make this happen.

History – See if you have any records from the previous event no matter how long ago. How many people attended? How many spouses? At what price? Any seed money left over for the next reunion?

Vision – Decide what you’d like to make happen. Maybe there is already a community function in your hometown that might be fun to tie into! Recently I helped my father attend his 65th High School reunion. His school has the longest running Alumnae association in the United States. (Stevens High School Alumnae, Claremont NH – 1871)
They have a banquet for all alumnae, a parade, floats, bands, horses – it was fabulous!
Maybe your hometown has a special community day that would add to your weekend! Check that out before you pick a date.

Gathering the Facts – Now that you have a vision and a date, the work begins to put together a budget. Many hands make light work as you gather information from bands, venues, caterers, etc. to find out what things cost. Recruit as many volunteers as you can!

Creating the Budget – At this point you should be able to plug in a few actual numbers and make an educated guess on others. Along with the usual suspects, i.e. venue, food, band, etc. Don’t forget the costs of designing a brochure or program, and/or invitations and the cost for printing and mailing. A lot can be done via e-mail these days so you might not need printed materials.

Ticket Pricing – So now you know what it’s going to cost, but you still have no idea about attendance. I’d take the most conservative attendance number you can muster and spread the cost out to find out how much you need per head. If you have money left over you can bequeath that to the next lucky committee for the next reunion!  And if you’ve miscalculated by thousands of dollars you can give everyone free drink coupons! They’ll love you for it! What they won’t love is coming up short and having to pass the hat for more revenue on location!

So plan, plan, plan! Look for inexpensive events already happening that you might be able to tag along with for at least a portion of your reunion weekend. A few ideas:

  • Happy Hours at a local bar – maybe a tent can be set up outside with a cash bar – the house is already giving away some free appetizers. Or maybe they have a private room you can use.
  • Yearly BBQ day put on by the Rotary, Elks or Moose where you could join in with a tent and BYOB.
  • Sidewalk Sale or Community Day where food vendors are already on location. Snap up the town hall for alumnae and you’ve got a party!

Celebrating your 10th?  See what class is celebrating their 15th or 20th in the same year and join forces!

Big or small, old or young, classmates love to hook up and given just a little guidance on where to meet – they create a party just by being there! Checkout www.Classmates.com to find those that have disappeared on you!