Conference Planning Guide – Budgeting process


1.            While there is no set budget for the conference, it should be set up with the plan to not run in the red, if at all possible. Certain things are unforeseen, but correctly calculating the expenses early will help you put on a good conference that will pay for itself.

2.            Request a copy of the previous two annual conference budgets and final figures for comparison. If you think you have estimated low, add a miscellaneous line. (See item #10)

3.            Prior conference fees can assist you in calculating the fee for your conference, but remember, each conference has its own special circumstances, which may cause you to adjust the fee needed to cover your costs.

4.            Fees have to be raised at times because the cost of all things you need for your conference will increase from year to year.

5.            Attendance numbers can also have a large influence on the final costs. If you feel your attendance will be down, you may need to raise the cost just to cover the same expenses. Use prior conference numbers to assist in your registration estimates.

6.            Raising fees slightly each year may help prevent a future President from having to make a dramatic fee increase to replenish the association bank account.

7.            If you plan on special events that a majority of the conferees attending may not participate in, you may look at adding a special fee for those that want to take part in that activity.

8.            Set your fees and make sure that they are explained in writing on the registration form.

  1. Registration for members
  2. Registration for guests
  3. Cost of extra banquet tickets
  4. Fees for elective activities.

9.            Be conservative with your income estimates and liberal with your expenses estimates. This may help eliminate major surprises.

10.        Put your budget information on a spreadsheet so you can update and analyze your income and expenses data on a regular basis.

11.        Include a line in the budget for miscellaneous expenses. There are always unexpected expenses.

12.        Being conservative can be good, but going cheap is not always the way to go!

13.        The conference is not intended to be a moneymaker, but it should pay for itself.

14.        Always have a copy of your final income and expense data for the next President. It often helps to itemize the amounts, so they can look to see where they may have over or underestimated.

15.        The NCRAAO Association has benefitted considerably from donations from the members, sponsors, vendors, and business community in general. The Conference often has breaks, luncheons, door prizes, centerpieces, welcome bags, auction items, and other things that get donated. While we may continue to accept donations, the association has a healthy cash balance and conference planners should consider paying for the conference rather than soliciting all items. Keep in mind that we want to represent our association as a legitimate professional organization.