Developing a Budget
The university region conference should be budgeted at least on a breakeven basis. This is not a moneymaking venture, but it should not lose money either. It is the responsibility of the organizing committee to ensure that all fundraising efforts accumulate enough revenues to give the participating students a worthwhile and exciting experience. A reasonable registration fee should be set so that a large number of students can attend the conference. Keep in mind that attendees are students and they don't have large budgets. Also, remember that the attendees must pay for hotel and transportation. Try to keep the registration fee as low as possible through fundraising. Ask local companies to become sponsors of your conference. Use this sample budget as a guide.
Potential sources of income for the conference are:
- Nominal registration fee. Every student attending the conference should pay a registration fee. Consider a fee structure that will give a discount for early registration and/or for students who are IIE members.
- Contributions from professional chapters. The faculty advisor should help you contact the local professional chapter(s) as well as other professional chapters in the region(s) in order to seek donations.
- IIE university region conference custodial fund
- The IE department at your university and other universities in the region(s). Your faculty advisor can help you seek funding from the department as well as from the college.
- Industrial engineering alumni.
- Fundraising. Detailed information on fundraising and sample sponsorship letters.
- Student government associations. Typically, these entities allocate money for special student events. Contact your student government association to determine if funds are available. Keep in mind that sponsorships may be of various forms: cash, speakers, and supplies. See section on fundraising (above) for more details and ideas.
Remember to recognize all donations with publicity in materials distributed before and during the conference.
University region conferences incur many expenses.
Meeting room/facility space
You may incur a charge for a meeting room or facility. The university should have available meeting space, often free of charge, with a reasonably priced catering service. Hotels normally do not charge for meeting room space when meals are included in the event.
Food and beverage costs
Lunches and the awards banquet are usually included for all attendees. It is not advisable to plan any evening meals except for the awards banquet. Since students often like to check out the local area on their own the turnout at an evening function may be low and you could end up paying for unused food. However, experiences indicate that a well-organized icebreaker event on the first night brings all the attendees closer together. Do not underestimate the power of a first impression.
If you are using the university's meeting facilities, you may be able to cut costs on a luncheon by purchasing deli trays, chips, and sodas at the local grocery store. If you use a catering service, check to see if you can save money by providing your own paper plates, napkins, plastic ware, soft drinks, tea, and tablecloths. Remember that anytime you do something yourself, it should be time efficient as well as cost efficient. If no one has time to do the purchasing or set-up, then it is worth the money to pay the caterer to do it.
Have coffee available in the morning and water or soft drinks for the afternoon break. If you are using a hotel, they may provide free pastries and croissants, or if you can guarantee a certain number of room rentals, they may even give you complimentary coffee and sodas. Don't be shy about asking hotels what they can do for you. Most hotels are situated in highly competitive markets, and they will do quite a bit to get your business.
The monetary prizes for the technical paper competition should be as high as the conference can afford, with the minimum being:
- First place - $100
- Second place - $75
- Third place - $50
If the paper is co-authored, the principal author receives the award. The host chapter is not responsible for distribution of the award among all the authors of the paper. Other costs associated with the awards are certificates or plaques, should the committee decides to give these out. As an incentive to participate, you could have a mileage award for the person or team who traveled the greatest distance to the conference. Again, this need not be a monetary award.
Since the technical paper competition requires judges, you may want to budget for a small gift for the judges (plaque, certificate, or other appropriate gift) as a token of appreciation for their time.
You may need audio-visual equipment for presentations or the awards banquet. If your meeting location is the university, AV equipment may be available to you at no charge. Make sure you notify the attending chapters about the equipment available for the presenters in the technical paper competition. Hotels tend to charge large sums of money for AV equipment so do your best to get it from your institution.
In the past, the host chapter was responsible for reimbursing a part of the expenses for mileage, hotel, and registration for the delegate representing a chapter. However, this has been changed to remove the unnecessary burden on the host chapter. Each chapter is now responsible for raising funds to meet all the expenses (travel, lodging, meals, and registration) for the delegate representing the chapter. However, if the budget permits, the chapter delegate may have a reduced or free registration fee to the conference. Faculty advisors and other attending faculty pay the same price as students.