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Jan 5, 2023

How to grow your business awards revenue with entry fees the right way

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If you’re running business awards (or any type of awards, for that matter), an additional source of revenue is always welcome. And while charging entry fees seems like the easiest way to go about it, you might wonder if asking applicants for money will lower participation levels. This article will help you decide whether charging entry fees is the best course for your organization and if so, how to go about it. Read on!

Free vs. paid awards

There are two main business models for organizing awards: free and paid.

Business awards are free when the organizers don’t charge applicants to enter. They are usually backed up by sponsors and partners. In other cases, a yearly membership fee might partially or fully cover the expenses for an awards program.

In the second case, applicants have to pay to enter. Setting up an entry fee to bring that extra income to your organization could be a game-changing decision.

Is charging entry fees right for your business awards?

You might think that charging entry fees will decrease submissions. That somewhat logical fear pushes many awards managers to forgo fees in lieu of sponsorships and other, often less convenient, revenue streams. And yet, having applicants pay to enter your awards doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll limit the number of your entries. On the contrary, if done right, this will have the opposite effect and increase the number of submissions.

Let’s go through the pros and cons of organizing paid business awards.


  • Builds credibility and strong brand image — buyers usually associate higher priced products with higher value, and that includes awards.
  • Increases the number of entries if the right strategy is applied — the number of entries can increase if award organizers build a strong marketing campaign, use the right pricing strategy, and apply effective communication with their target audience.
  • Increases the percentage of applicants that actually submit their entries — Evalato-compiled statistics show that most free awards have a submission rate of around 50%, while paid awards (with payment at registration) have submission rates of more than 90%.
  • Draws more quality applications to your awards — when participants invest to be recognized at a high industry level, they have to bring their “A” game to beat the competition.
  • It’s an additional source of revenue for your awards — successful programs have managed to use entry fees as a long-term strategy to build a sustainable stream of revenue for years to come.


  • Not suitable in all cases — while entry fees work for most business awards, they might not be the best choice if you want to branch out and create a powerlist or an index, for example.
  • Not suitable for social impact programs — for example, if you want to recognize social contributions, charging high entry fees might not send the right message.
  • Could lead to fewer entries if the value is not communicated well — if you have not properly presented the value and quality of your award, participants don’t have as much incentive to pay.

So, as you can see, the pros heavily outweigh the cons of charging entry fees for business awards, as long as you do it right. This is one of the things a good awards management solution can help you with, so let’s see how Evalato gets the job done.

Charging entry fees with Evalato

Here at Evalato, we’ve made sure to make charging entry fees straightforward and transparent. You don’t have to worry about how the money will come through, all you need to do is be creative when it comes to outlining the goals of your program and making the entire experience worth it for all parties involved. Here are key features that Evalato provides you with to strategically plan your entrant fee terms:

Different rates for different award categories

Evalato’s enhanced group and category structure gives you the flexibility to charge different entry fees for each category, or even have a mix of free and paid categories if you so choose.

For example, if a participant wants to enter a highly contested category, such as “Best Marketing Campaign”, you can set up a high price for participation. But if they’re entering a niche category like “Best Print Campaign”, setting up a lower fee makes more sense.

Then, if you want to set up awards that recognize both business and social achievements, this feature gives you the flexibility to reflect that in the entry fees.

Payments in 160+ currencies and various payment methods

When asking people for money, you need to make it as convenient as possible for them to give that money to you, and this is where Evalato has you covered. The software supports payments via 30+ cards, wallets, and various payment methods, including Stripe, PayPal, and Braintree, among others. Then, if you prefer offline methods such as bank transfer or something else entirely — Evalato delivers on that too.

The software also gives you the option for custom tax settings based on country-specific rules.

Payments at different stages of the application process

While many software focus on requiring payments at application submission, Evalato gives you the option to collect your entry fees at registration, at submission, or after submission.

Pro tip: Require payment at registration.

We recommend requiring payment at registration. By doing so:

  • You will increase your income since more entrants will make an impulsive decision to enter the awards.
  • You can track your revenue as applicants will not be able to finish their registration process without completing the payment.
  • Entrants will be more motivated to submit since they have already paid.

How to price your awards and boost submissions

One important aspect of paid awards is the pricing strategy. Here are some quick tips for your pricing strategy:  

  • When setting your prices, do in-depth research on your competitors, target audience, and the market you’re operating in.
  • Consider options like discounts and special offers. These are some of the ways to add more value to your proposition and maximize the end results.  
  • When communicating prices, use words that imply small magnitude, like “small”, “low”, “little”, etc. This is a well-known strategy to drive sales by affecting the customer’s price perception.
  • Make your pricing completely transparent — the amount you are requesting, including taxes, if any, and the payment terms.

Learn more: The spot-on guide to pricing awards and programs.

Send promo codes to your loyal audience

Evalato’s Promo codes feature can help you increase the number of submissions. Offering special prices for business partners, loyal customers, newsletter subscribers, etc., is a nice way of showing appreciation to the people who support your venture.    

The promo codes can be set up as a flat value or a percentage. They can be customized based on several sets of criteria, making this feature very flexible. Evalato also generates the discount code that applicants will use in the process of their registration if you don’t want to do it manually.

Increase the number of submissions with special offers

Special offers are another Evalato-supported feature that can lift your participation rate and ultimately boost your bottom line. You can offer volume discounts, bundles, 2-for-1 deals, “early bird” admissions, etc. — depending on the type of discount, you can either offer better value for money or create a sense of urgency among the prospective participants. To that end, you can customize your criteria to make your special offers more effective.

The bottom line

Deciding to charge entry fees for your business awards is not necessarily an easy decision but more often than not, it’s the right one. With one caveat — you have to do it the right way. As long as you abide by the principles of transparency, flexibility, and value, and use the right awards management software to help you out, you’re good to go.  

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