- Use the attached example budget spreadsheet to guide you through this process! It is available for download as a spreadsheet (in xls, odt, sxc formats) that contains all default cost items. Sums are automatically calculcated as you enter values for estimated or real costs.
Determining the cost of the event
Try to negotiate a fairly detailed contract with the Source Camp partners well in advance to plan your budget. However, consider that a contract in some parts of the world presents a starting point for your relationship, rather than a fixed document. Partners are likely to renegotiate on services and costs. If you are familiar with the social, cultural and legal environment, it will be easier to navigate how to deal with these difficult situations. As a rule of thumb, you should try to establish the signed contract as non-negotiable. You should also plan for additional expenses to crop up.
Based on the goals/objectives of the event, the key cost categories are:
- Travel (largest cost item)
- Programme (costs for implementing the curriculum and extra activities)
Get quotes where possible and estimate other costs to create a rough budget. Use the cost items in the budget spreadsheet to check that you are not missing any costs.
The core costs to the organisations that are planning and implementing the event are always difficult to estimate, and often significantly more time is spent than initially expected.
An attendance fee should be included in the calculations. It can be reasonable (for example Africa Source 2: US$ 150), but has a symbolic effect and discourages participants from cancelling.
Include the currencies most utilised by funders and implementing organisations (euro/dollar/local currency)
Working with the budget
The available budget template is useful for tracking costs as they occur. A few guidelines for working with the budget:
- The spreadsheet covers income and cost.
- As costs occur, put them into the detail section of the spreadsheet.
- The overview budget pulls information from detailed budgets.
- Keep in mind that the largest chunk of the budget will be travel costs (up to 65% of the costs).
- Be careful to always double-check that the formulas used to calculate sums are working correctly. It is easy to copy and paste data that overwrites formulas, which can lead to very significant problems. For example, errors in the formulae might lead you to miscalculate the total amount of money you need.
- Build room for backup into budget. The spreadsheet contains a 5% backup item, but if you can include more, then that is advisable. Make sure to be transparent about this with funders!
- Set the currency conversions at a fixed rate in the budget, and then update them right before the event. Working with different currencies is always difficult and there is usually some loss of money.
- Readjust the budget based on receipts of actual amounts (i.e. not the funded amounts, but those in the bank account)
- An often underestimated budget item is bank transaction costs (4-8 EURO per international transaction). If you do a lot of international payments, reimbursements, this could be substantial.
- Make payments as soon as you can. As everything will take longer than expected, it is best not to have a backlog of payments.
- Be transparent about timings of payments and give a heads-up if there are any problems, because people appreciate when they know what is going on.
- Other unexpected costs often related to travel include transit hotels, and extra days before and after the conference.
Travel reimbursement take a lot of time and effort and -- because you are dealing with significant amounts of money -- is not without risks and problems. In principle, participants are expected to make their own travel arrangements and will be reimbursed during or after the event, but sometimes exceptions are necessary.
- Have a look at Travel Reimbursement for more information on how to best handle the booking and payment for transport.