Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.Thomas Edison (1847—1931)
US inventor and businessman
Many workshops, trainings or seminars can be organised at almost no cost. Others — and this will often depend on the audience — will require a greater expenditure. Whatever the event, some money will inevitably be involved — and accordingly we have to deal with budget and finance, too.
You need to be clear with prices and quick with your payments! This will make you a well-respected customer. Being clear means that everybody gets what he expects and that you know how much you are spending. For budget calculations, we have made a little template, which you find in the Annex.
All in all there are several areas of expenditure (see also logistics):
- Equipment and Material: Banners, multimedia, markers, papers, sound system, seminar bags etc.
- People: Moderators, guest speakers, report writer, assistant.
- Hospitality: Accommodation and food for participants and facilitators.
- Travel: Travel for participants and facilitators.
You will need the original bill for every item of expenditure. For the travel you will need tickets and boarding (to prove that the money was actually spent). For the people involved you will need to draft service agreements.
Furthermore, always keep a certain reserve of money with you for unforeseen expenses, e.g. medicine for a participant.
Unfortunately, often non-profit organisations or state institutions cannot finance tips for the hotel personal and waiters. They have to come from your own pocket. Nonetheless, in cases where the service personnel have done a good job it’s a reward and will help you the next time, too.
Make your calculation of budget and finance ahead of time! You should make a careful note of all your financial calculations and actual expenditures. This will allow you to see the difference between your initial plans and the final cost — a vital part of learning process.
While for some workshop leaders an event is an occasion for income generation, for others it is just fun, and there are some who just feel the need to get their message across. However, you will face the problem of a seminar fee.
Income generation: Here you have to calculate all the costs including your own time (plus preparation time) and divide it by the number of participants. Take also into account that about ten per cent won’t show up.
Non-profit: Even if you don’t want to make money, it can be useful to ask participants for a nominal fee. It will change how they feel about the event: it is easy to associate that which has no price with something, which has no value. Generally speaking, people value things more when they have paid for them. Also, they will be less willing to cancel at the last minute and without good reason.
There might be few organisations that pay a daily allowance to their participants. But as we suggested in the introduction, the attitude of the participants towards learning is the most important feature of a successful workshop and in cases where the participants receive money merely for attending it could quite easily undermine the pedagogical aspect of the event. Thus, I strongly discommend the payment of daily allowances.
If you pay travel reimbursements then you should make it as easy as possible for all sides — and don’t forget to apply requirements of budget and finance.
Reimbursement takes much more time if you have to do it after an event by correspondence. Thus, we recommend doing it there and then during the workshop. This will lessen the burden on your time later and means that participants have a small amount of money available.
Filling out expense forms can be time-consuming and annoying. We have developed a simple and self-explanatory template, which is quick to fill out and fulfils the requirements of our financial guidelines.
A list of standard travel rates or a general rule makes the payments quick and transparent. For example, you can state that travels equivalent to the train ticket will be refunded. Thus, also someone arriving by motorbike will have the same amount and can decide before whether he prefers to ride his bike or book a coach.