How to Budget For Church Events in 3 Steps

As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of our personal finances. We are also called to show financial stewardship within our church budgets, as well. Since events are a huge portion of church ministry, one way to make good on this calling is to be intentional with our church’s annual budgeting process.

Here are three easy steps to budget for church events and keep your ministry on track for the year. 

Step #1: Determine What Events You’ll Host This Year

In a recent blog post, I told you about the importance of planning church events a year ahead of time. The first step to planning in advance was to determine early which events to host throughout the year. My recommendation is to first hold a meeting with your event planning team where you put all potential events on a large wall calendar (erasable is best) for everyone to see. This is a great visual that helps you determine whether or not you have too big, or too little, event goals for the year. From there, host a follow-up team meeting to review the calendar with your ministry department leaders, Executive Pastor, Senior Pastor, and support department leaders (Finance, Communications, Facilities, etc.). Some things to discuss in this follow-up are potential workload issues for your staff as well as budgets for each event, which leads us into Step #2.

Step #2: Create a Budget for Each Event 

Next, you’ll need to create a budget for each individual event. Here’s a list of items you should account for when creating a detailed budget: 

  • Marketing — To promote your church event, you’ll need marketing communication. This includes things like website design, logos, advertisements, flyers, and email newsletters.
  • Guest Speakers — If you plan on bringing outside guest speakers to your event, you’ll need to account for honorariums as well as their travel and lodging expenses.
  • Catering — Meals or snacks at events can sometimes take a huge portion of the budget. Consider asking for donations from local restaurants or have several church members make the food as a part of their volunteer service. 
  • Equipment and Decor Rentals — This may include renting tables, chairs, three-way radios for communication, tents, sound and lighting equipment, etc.
  • Signage — Most likely, you will need signs around the church campus to help event participants locate key areas. 
  • Merchandise — If you plan to sell books, DVDs, or other items at the event, you’ll need to figure in your initial purchasing costs for these items.
  • Security — For larger gatherings, you may want to hire off-duty law enforcement officers or other security personnel to ensure a safe event space. 
  • Print Materials — Some extra print materials may include name tags, staff lanyards, workbooks, handouts, etc.

Step #3: Review the Budget

Depending on how your church handles the annual budgeting process, budgets for events may roll up into each department’s budget for the year. Regardless of how this is handled, you should review each event budget before approving the event to take place. If an event is too costly, it can often be scaled back instead of cut altogether. That’s why reviewing is such an important step to the budgeting process.

You may also want to check out 6 Practical Ways to Achieve Excellence on a Budget, for tips on how to stick to your budget.

Church event planning can quickly get out of hand if there isn’t a clear process. To help you stay focused, shortcut the budgeting process with this Event Budgeting Template.