8 Event Budgeting Tips Every Competition Organizer Should Know

Help streamline your event budgeting process with these eight tips.

Budgeting tips for CrossFit competitions

Crafting a budget for a fitness competition is usually not a favorite task for event organizers. It is time-intensive, always-changing, and must be accurate to be valuable. However, with some strategic thinking, your event budget will become one of your most useful documents for your upcoming event – and future ones.

Here are our eight tips for creating a useful – and accurate – event budget.


Table of Contents

1. Define Your Goals

Your Purpose

Your “why” has a direct impact on important decisions you’ll be making that ultimately affect your budget. Determine your event’s purpose and define what ultimate success looks like to you. This will be your event’s North Star, and will keep you and your team aligned to achieve your goals within budget.

Some examples of your “why” can be:

  • To raise funds to support a charity
  • To generate income for your affiliate
  • To enhance your affiliate brand awareness, internally or externally
  • To strengthen your community morale
  • To celebrate fitness
  • To gain local, regional or global notoriety in the competition space
  • …or a combination of any of the above.

Your Vision

Once you have your why, think about your overall vision for the event. What does it look like if you close your eyes and imagine your event as it’s unfolding? If your vision is “selling out a small stadium for a competitive sanctional with live streams and precision,” that will require very different decisions along the way than a quick Saturday morning community throwdown with a few workouts in your home gym.

When you’re putting together your event budget, you need to include all the details you envision.  If you see something important when you close your eyes, it should be accounted for in your financial plan.

2. Create a ballpark estimate in a spreadsheet

Start with a ballpark budget of how much everything will cost, then you can refine as you research in step 3.

Budgeting is the only time we recommend using a spreadsheet for your competition (see why we don’t recommend spreadsheets any other time here in Why you shouldn’t manage your competition with a spreadsheet).

We recommend using Google Sheets for easier sharing and accessibility between your team. Create a spreadsheet with the following columns:

  • Item name: for example, “equipment rental”
  • Item description: any key details that apply to the item
  • Estimated  expense: your projection for how much you think it will cost
  • Actual cost: what the item actually costs so you can get a better idea of your estimated vs. actual costs for future events
  • Paid: make a note of when you’ve paid for the item here

This gives you the flexibility to start talking to stakeholders early about the costs involved and to back those conversations up with hard numbers as you get closer to holding your event.

3. Learn from past events

As we mentioned in Step 2 above, you can learn a lot from tracking your estimated vs actual costs. If possible, reuse lists/spreadsheets from past events, so you don’t have to start from scratch.

  • Are there any items you may have forgotten about?
  • Where did you underspend on the last event?
  • Where did you go over budget?
  • Are there obvious items you need to adjust your expectations, budget or spend on?

4. Start researching specific items

Now start collecting quotes and vendor estimates for specific line items. Check each item on your spreadsheet list that you made in Step 2. Here’s a sample list:

  • On-site costs
    • Venue
    • Food and beverage
    • A/V and tech
    • Speakers
    • DJ
    • MC
    • Transportation
    • Swag
    • T-shirts for athletes and volunteer team
    • Security
    • Medical team
  • Competition Management Technology
    • RX Tip: The most powerful fitness competition management software available is also free to use. Check out Strongest Compete today and create your competition in minutes.
    • If you’re not using an all-in-one competition management system like Strongest, then you’ll need to budget for the following items:
      • Event website platform fees
      • Event domain name
      • Event website hosting fees
      • Ticketing/booking software and fees
      • Leaderboard publishing tool
      • Scheduling and heat sheet creation tool
      • Data and analytics tracking tools
  • Competition marketing and promotion
    • Graphic design
    • Social media and paid advertising
    • Printed marketing materials
    • Affiliate and influencer fees
    • Paid content marketing

5. Get multiple vendor quotes

Make sure to get multiple quotes from different vendors for all the items above. Requesting multiple quotes is an effective way to make sure you’re getting the best value and to negotiate with suppliers to get a better cost. It also provides an overview of the cost of a particular product or service. Conversations with various vendors are the best way to understand the range of prices better. Furthermore, vendors are a great source of information to understand what is necessary and unnecessary. They may also have helpful advice on how to save money for a certain item.

6. Make your budget document work for you and your team.

Keep in mind that your budget spreadsheet is a dynamic document. It will be changed, referred to and referenced repeatedly by many people. For that reason, it would be wise to include the following:

  • A record of payment due dates, including any required down payments (and when they must be settled).
  • Notes about cost contingencies or special deals offered.
  • Contact names and details of vendors/suppliers so others on your team are in the loop.

7. Decide where to save – and where to spend

As a competition organizer, you need to pick and choose which aspects of the event are most important to your goals. Investing in top-notch options in certain areas is worthwhile, while you can reduce spending or even cancel out expenses in others, depending on what is important to you. Maybe you don’t need two photo backdrops after all. Or maybe you can pair up with a local brewer to showcase their craft beer at a great discount instead of buying more expensive, mainstream brands. By prioritizing your needs, you’ll know where to invest those valuable resources.

8. Have an emergency fund

No matter how far in advance you plan, things won’t always go to plan. This is why a “rainy day fund” is so important to have. The amount will depend on the scale of your competition, but we like to set aside an additional 20-30% of your total budget, just in case.

Developing a budget for your fitness competition does take work, but with some proper planning, it will become one of your most useful documents for growth.