<img src="//bat.bing.com/action/0?ti=5439530&amp;Ver=2" height="0" width="0" style="display:none; visibility: hidden;">


Learning Series: Sizing Up Costs and Necessary Staff Time

Learning Series: Sizing Up Costs and Necessary Staff Time

You already know that awards programs cost money. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t generate revenue with yours, especially if you learn how to budget and allocate staff time appropriately.

In this article, we’re going to discuss some budgeting basics and staffing tips to avoid going over budget.

Budgeting Basics

Balancing each element of your awards program may seem like a challenge. After all, allocating money for basic operations, marketing, IT support, your gala, and other steps of the process may seem like an impossible task.

Luckily, it isn’t.

Here are some of our favorite budgeting tips to keep your program on track:


  • Create a Spreadsheet – If you aren’t using awards software, put together an awards spreadsheet to stay on track. The spreadsheet will be more helpful if you allocate expenses for the different sections we listed above (operations, marketing, etc.).
  • Analyze Previous Years – What was your budget in previous years? How much did you actually spend? How much have prices gone up for each of the required elements? Analyzing this data can keep you on track for this year and help you avoid unexpected expenses.
  • Add to Your Estimated Expenses – It never hurts to be over prepared! If you’re uncertain as to what something will cost, add 10 percent to your estimated expenses. This may account for an increase in prices you can’t yet predict and will help avoid unwelcome surprises later in your program.

Sticking to these 3 tips is a simple way to stay on budget and to prevent new expenses from ruining your program or your expected revenue. But, what happens if you need more staff?

Allocating Staff Time

Your staff are a significant expense throughout your program. What makes matters more difficult is that staff demand will fluctuate throughout the program. For example, you may need staff members at the beginning and end of the call for entry but less staff during it. Or, you may need more staff at your gala to assist entrants but didn’t quite anticipate this during the planning stages.

Here is a general timeline you should be mindful of to ensure you have enough money to pay staff when you need them most:


  • Call for Entry – You’ll need more staff toward the end of your call for entry period to manage applicant inquiries, fix technical issues, and manage other tasks. The end of the call for entry period is going to be your busiest time throughout your entire program.
  • Judging and Gala Preparation – You’ll rely more heavily on contractors during this period than any other as all of the gala arrangements are likely to be made through outside sources. Be sure you have enough staff to manage the contractors and judges, but you won’t need as much time for this as you do during the call for entry.

It’s always important to reserve staff hours for unexpected needs as well. That way, you won’t be caught off guard should something happen and you need staff to manage the problem or find a resolution.

Stay on Budget This Year

It can be difficult to stay on budget, especially with staff time. However, with the right planning, and by following the tips above, you’ll be more prepared to tackle the challenges ahead.

Ashley Surinak is the resident OpenWater expert on all things content. From the blog to guides and beyond, you'll find her at every turn in your OpenWater journey.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *