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The principles of finance and budgeting are the same no matter how big or small the event is. It is important before you commit to running an event that you understand the likely expenditure and potential income streams. Some events are run to make a profit whilst others will need financial investment. 

If you are running an event through a club, a Regional Development Team or a Discipline Committee, financial policies and procedures probably already exist, e.g. a requirement for two signatures on any payment. It is important to identify at an early stage who has the authority to authorise payments to ensure you maintain some control on expenditure.

Finance Smaller


Budgets can be as simple or as complex as you like but a few key factors will remain throughout:

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  • Be realistic with potential income and expenditure and, where possible, base it on previous events. It can be very difficult to recover a deficit whereas someone will always find a way to spend additional income if it comes in or it can be used to support future activities!
  • Understand the objectives of the event and what money is available. Does it need to make a profit or break even? It may be that it’s OK for an event to make a loss but this will need to be planned for and agreed. Understanding your objectives also helps when prioritising what to spend money on.  

  • Don’t create the budget in isolation - try and engage with other people who might identify additional line items.

  • Keep a record of what income and expenditure has been confirmed so that you can understand whether the budget is on track. 

  • A regular reforecast for larger events helps to maintain control. 

Cash Handling Procedure

The purpose of a cash handling procedure is to ensure control and safe keeping of money at an event.

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For small events you may not need to document anything but it is always worth considering a few basics:

  • All cash, including cash floats, should be held securely, as a minimum in a locked cash box at all times or, if possible, a safe or locked draw or till. 

  • Any cashboxes should be kept out of sight and preferably in a locked cabinet or drawer.

  • The counting of money should be done away from a public area.

  • Avoid having large quantities of cash being stored or held in the same place unless it is securely done so. Do not leave cash unattended for any period of time. 

  • A Daily Cash Handler should be established who will be responsible for issuing, collecting and receipting all cash. They will also be responsible for securely keeping the keys to wherever money is stored.

  • It may be worth having 2 people involved in the handling and processing of cash. This will allow for multiple people to understand the process, allow a checking mechanism for counting money and provides protection from any accusations of impropriety.

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Securing Sponsorship

If you are looking to increase the income into an event, then sponsorship may be possible. This could be for the event as a whole, for specific elements such as prizes, or value in kind contributions.

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In order to secure sponsors, it’s important to consider why they may contribute to the event, this is usually because they want:

  • Access to a specific audience either through participants or spectators

  • Marketing exposure

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) - an opportunity to support community or environmental activity that they would like to be aligned with. This can help with their public image and can potentially engage staff

 It’s also important to consider what sponsors may want in return for their money, this may include:

  • Logos or name on event signs, branding, website, social media

  • Naming rights or title sponsorship - think of the Carabao Cup in Football or Guinness Six Nations in Rugby

  • Opportunity to distribute products; sampling or promotional items

  • Opportunity to associate themselves with a club or person

  • A paddling experience for their staff

When approaching a sponsor, the key thing to consider is ‘how can you attract their attention?’. They are likely to get lots of approaches so it is important to think about how you can make sure they take notice of yours. This might include:

  • Using connections - does someone you know have a connection with that business or is there an obvious link between what they do and the event or the audience attending the event?

  • LinkedIn is a great tool to find the correct point of contact within an organisation, and allows you to connect with them and then approach

  • Creating something eye-catching to show people

  • Keeping it snappy - people won’t read long emails or correspondence

  • Asking  for advice or guidance - this might initiate a response and boost their ego which may help to develop a relationship

  • Highlighting why you think you can help them get traction with marketing and promotion

  • Offer them a Return on Investment (ROI) guarantee - will the exposure they recieve or the income it generates exceed the amount of money it costs them to sponsor?

  • Does your audience fit with their target market

The easiest way to gain sponsors is to retain them. In order to make sure this happens, the key things to do are:

  • Make sure they are thanked properly - this may be during the event, in communications and following the event

  • Follow up with them after the event to collect feedback and see what could be improved in the future

  • Ensure that you hit all key directives in the contract or agreement

  • Under promise and over achieve

  • Keep them updated on all information/developments

  • Reach out to them regularly to ask if they have anything in particular that they would like to promote

  • Send thank you cards and regular communications such as birthday or Christmas wishes

  • Provide them with the personal touch, for example an opportunity to get on the water themselves, or an invitation to a club celebration event

Eventbrite have an online blog detailing how to get and secure sponsorship for an event which may be useful.