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The Budget of a convention allocates expected income into categories of expenditure and makes it possible to estimate the convention's "bottom line".

The ConChair and Treasurer should put forth a budget with input from the rest of the concom, and have it approved by the Executive Committee or Board of Directors. Heads of departments should be given the budget and are expected to follow it. Any expenses not initially outlined in the budget should be approved by the ConChair before they are spent.

Setting a Budget

When in doubt, start from last year's budget. If you are a new convention, see if an existing convention that is of a similar size and shape will share knowledge with you.

Make sure your budget has some padding, which is to say you should overestimate your expected expenses at the beginning. Then as actuals come in throughout the year you can adjust it to get more exact. .

An excellent tracking tool for budgeting is to plan in advance When you expect to spend the funds, in addition to How much you expect to spend (a Burn Rate estimation). This will provide the opportunity to work towards a monthly / weekly / daily budget as the convention approaches, and to spot deviations from the plan when they occur. Estimates of the seriousness of the deviation can then be assessed and corrected for very early, before they cause funds shortfalls near the end of the convention, when it is too late to do anything.

Try not to overestimate your expected income. Whenever possible let numbers from previous years be your guide. Note that exceptionally fabulous guests will probably not increase your membership as much as you are tempted to think.

Virtual Conventions

Virtual conventions have different cost profiles to physical conventions, hybrid conventions can have the worst of both.

Virtual attendance is much cheaper without travel, accommodation and food/drink costs, but it perceived to be poorer quality, so can only be charged at a lower rate. Many physical convention series chose to run free virtual events and absorb the costs to keep the series alive, often that attracted new members who are likely to travel to the event in future, even if only occasionally. Costs are more directly attributable, unlike physical conventions where function space costs are hidden in higher room rates, so people may baulk at paying the true rate for a virtual event.

By careful selection of software, events can be very cheap. Punctuation charged £5, ran smoothly and still gave money to charity as they resolutely chose free solutions and their size was under payment thresholds. Bigger or more ambitious events don't have that option. ConFusion paid a lot for their VR system Gathertown, so had to charge £50 membership and ran an unsuccessful event.

Many more people might come to your virtual event, but they are likely to join much later, so use rising membership rates to control your cashflow.