For any conference to be financially successful, developing an accurate budget is critical. The conference budget serves as a roadmap for your event and should be created and approved prior to signing any contracts or making any spending agreements. It also helps to ensure alignment of expectations between conference organizers and sponsors and serves as a decision-making framework in the lead-up to the event. Financial projections for your conference will evolve as you get closer to the day of the event, but having a sound plan from the beginning will ensure that you’re on the trajectory for success.
There are a number of important factors to consider in building your budget. Some of the key considerations include:
Nature of the event: Is your conference a small scholarly conference, a large tradeshow, or something else entirely?
Historical precedent: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results, but for events that have occurred previously, looking at historical financial information is generally the best place to start.
Location: Costs of doing business can vary dramatically based on the city or region in which the event takes place. It’s important to factor this into your expense projections.
Market Assessment: For most conferences, registration is the largest source of revenue. How do your registration prices compare to other events in your field?
Contingency: Even conferences with superior planning run into unforeseeable expenses. Leaving your conference with some “cushion” in the budgeting phase can help you avoid hardship and cost-cutting measures later on.
To assist you in compiling your budget, IEEE has the conference budget spreadsheet available.
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