Organizing a conference

a PORT for Modern Languages tutorial

1 Introduction

1.4 Finances

This is probably one of the most complex organizational aspects of any conference - certainly it is the most worrying one. That is why it is advisable to organize your conference in your home institution where you may be able to draw on the assistance of a central conference office and you may have recourse to funding.

The list of your costs may include:

  • keynote speakers' travel and accommodation expenses
  • session chairs’ travel and accommodation expenses
  • students’ bursaries
  • conference packs
  • advertizing
  • secretarial staff
  • porters and security staff
  • room bookings
  • rental of technical equipment
  • meals and refreshments
  • office costs (photocopying, postage)
  • administrative charge

Your income in order to cover these costs may come from:

  • grants from sponsors
  • participants’ registration fees
  • speakers’ and chairs' registration fees - if you decide to charge them (this is sometimes difficult with invited speakers. It is crucial to make clear when you first make contact what the financial arrangements will be since this can vary from meeting all expenses and offering a fee to meeting no expenses and charging conference registration - or anything inbetween.)
  • book displays
  • (possible) collateral events
  • The British Academy (but usually not for one-day conferences).

The most important source of finance, after the participants’ fees, is obviously represented by sponsors. The first place to contact from this point of view is your own university, that is, your own department or post-graduate school. It is essential that you approach them as early as possible in your conference planning. But it is also possible to receive funding from national bodies, such as for example the Society for Italian Studies, embassies and cultural institutions. For their contact details click on to our language resource pages.

If your university supports a special centre or society dealing with the subject of your conference - or if it is part of a larger consortium of universities, it is worthwhile contacting these institutions, too. Finally, do not forget that you can refer to British branches of any private company or bank of the country whose culture your conference is devoted to. Certain foreign companies may pay attention to cultural events concerning their country of origin.