In a Nutshell
How to budget trip costs, balancing costs and revenue; tips for reducing overall costs
Use a spreadsheet to itemize your projected budget and funding sources. Then track expenses and receipts. You need to ensure that you have the funds to cover expenses as they come due. Keep careful records, be systematic, attend to details, and save receipts.
By the end of the trip, ideally you should have a zero balance: all expenses paid and no funds remaining.
Categories for budgeting trip costs
Here are some suggested (though by no means comprehensive) categories for budgeting the total cost of the trek:
- Pre-trip expenses: Information sessions, Pre-trip meetings, Networking events, Marketing materials, Travel and miscellaneous expenses for the trip leaders such as meeting, transportation, Bank costs (transfer fees, administering funds, issuing checks)
- General expenses: Ground cost (the tour company’s general price proposal that usually covers transfers, ground transportation, three meals, several evening events, entrance fees, hotels), Tips, Discretionary funds (taxis, snacks, emergency, unanticipated expenses)
- Flights for leaders
- Flights for participants
- External events that fall outside the tour company’s price proposal (night life, cultural shows, networking with alums)
- Speaker fees and gifts
- Miscellaneous add-ons (sweatshirts, books, airport shuttle, etc.)
- Post-trip reunion
- Scholarships for participants who can’t afford the full participation cost
- Add 10% to the trip cost for unexpected changes
You will not be able to anticipate every expense and every category, so revise the spreadsheet to accommodate additional expenses as they arise. Estimate conservatively to avoid cost overruns.
Most funders look closely at unit costs, so be sure to indicate the total cost per person on the budget.
Tips for reducing overall costs
- Personally approach speakers; you may be able to get their fee waived
- Negotiate with the tour company for a lower price; this might involve them cutting their margin or scaling back the level of hotels and restaurants
- Look for ways to cut back the itinerary that won’t impact your trip goals
- Seek funding to sponsor a meal with the university or a group or a company hosts an event
- Seek funding to sponsor a mifgash (encounter) with Israelis; Israel & Co. provides funding for this purpose.
- Designate some meals as free time with participants eating on their own
- Seek funding for stipends for the most needy participants
- Consider reducing the general subsidy for all participants in order to give more to those who really need it