How to Negotiate Effective Meeting Budgets

by Marilyn Lindblad

Budgeting for meetings helps ensure that adequate resources are available for gatherings throughout the fiscal year. Negotiating with the powers that hold the purse strings to get funding for your meetings is part of the budgeting process. You can prepare for those negotiations by identifying the essential and nonessential elements of each meeting and developing a fallback position you can retreat to in case you don't end up with the funding you requested.

1. List the meetings that you need to budget for in the coming fiscal year. Include everything from weekly staff meetings on company premises to overnight offsite meetings held out of town.

2. List the essential items that you must have for each meeting, such as a conference room, seating and meeting materials. Include any equipment that you need, such as a flip chart or a digital projector, and any fees and expenses for guest speakers.

3. List the nonessential items that would be nice to have for each meeting. Examples of these items include meals, beverages and inspirational toys and gadgets for brainstorming sessions. Use existing records to help estimate these costs.

4. Create a detailed budget for one year's worth of offsite meetings. Include travel, lodging, meals, conference rooms, entertainment, meeting materials, guest speakers and local events. Use records from past offsite meetings to help prepare accurate estimates.

5. Propose a budget that includes all of the items on your list. Add 5 to 10 percent to last year's expenses as a cushion for inflation and other cost variances. If the finance division makes a counter-proposal for a reduced budget, cut some of the non-essential items that you included and recalculate the budget.

6. Continue to refine the list of items you need for each meeting until you reach agreement on the budget. If you must cut costs, remove some meetings from the schedule or remove some nonessential expense items from each meeting.


  • An easy way to get started is to get out last year's budget or expenses and copy elements from last year that will be repeated next year.
  • If you hold a weekly meeting, consider serving birthday cake monthly or quarterly to celebrate recent birthdays.

About the Author

Marilyn Lindblad practices law on the west coast of the United States. She has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her work has appeared on various websites. Lindblad received her Juris Doctor from Lewis and Clark Law School.

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