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May 4, 2023

Winning tactics for organizing association awards

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Organizing awards can prove challenging for any association (especially if you have little to no experience), but if you do it right, the rewards are numerous. To help you out, we’ve prepared a list of winning tactics for organizing a successful program that will make the daunting task of association awards management seem like a walk in the park. Read on! 

Form a solid foundation by defining your goals 

You need a solid foundation for your awards program which is what your goals are for. Once you set them, you can build the rest of your awards program up. Here are some ideas of what to achieve with your association awards: 

  • Recognize achievements — depending on your industry/area, opt to celebrate milestones your members have achieved in the respective sector, recognize their overall performance, etc.    
  • Increase engagement — awards can boost your members’ engagement with your association during the entire lifecycle of your program; 
  • Enhance your association's reputation — an awards program will bring some attention to your association (think about all the online buzz, media coverage, shares, likes, comments, etc.), with this effect amplifying with every subsequent edition.  
  • Attract new members — the buzz surrounding your program coupled with the awards’ reputation could attract new entrants for the next edition (especially if you opt to make your awards an annual occurrence) and prompt them to become part of your association. 

Decide on the type of awards

Based on your goals, choose the type of awards you want to run. As an association, you have multiple awards options for your members, such as business awards, powerlists, awards recognizing contributions to your industry, a competition to drive member engagement, etc. Choose the type that fits your goal(s) best and decide whether you want to make them paid or free. 

Entry fees — yes or no?  

An awards program can be an additional source of revenue for your association, with entry fees being one of the ways to make your program profitable. Charging entry fees will also boost the credibility of your program and draw more quality applications since your members are likely to pay more attention when crafting their entries if they have paid to submit them. 

On the flip side, entry fees are not the best option for social impact programs or in the case of powerlists. 

So, depending on your specific case, you need to decide whether to charge entry fees, make your awards free (and finance them with other revenue streams such as membership fees or sponsorships), or make a combination of paid and free categories. 

While the choice is yours either way, if you do decide to charge entry fees, here’s how to do it right

  • Charge fees at registration — this will ensure a higher submission rate since people are more likely to submit their entries if they’ve already paid to register for your awards; 
  • Consider promo codes/discounts — offer a promo code to longer-term members, throw in a free category as part of your membership fee, or give an early-bird discount, all or any of these will create a sense of exclusivity and motivate your members to enter; 
  • Make payments secure and convenient — offer multiple payment options and do not compromise on the security of payments. 

Plan your awards program timeline  

Define a timeline for your awards and stick to it. Start by setting the date when you want the results announced. Do you want to recognize your association’s members come year-end? Or is late spring, right before summer kicks in, the ultimate time for your industry? Pick a date and work backward, planning for sufficient time for every phase. Note that every awards program has four major phases:

  • Registration — or the call for entries phase which usually is the longest one; 
  • Entry submission — the period where your applicants will submit their entries; this phase sometimes overlaps with the registration phase;
  • Evaluation — the time set aside for jury (or public) voting; 
  • Announcement of finalists and winners, and/or an awards ceremony. 

To ensure that all your phases run on time, with deadlines duly communicated, consider a software solution that streamlines all processes in one place and is equipped with email automation that will take care of reminders to entrants and judges. 

What to budget for  

No one said that organizing awards is cheap but it doesn’t have to break the bank either. Here are some must-haves to plan for when setting your budget: 

  • Budget for a solution — this type of software will take care of the bulk of your awards program and save the time and effort of your team, which is much more valuable. This way, you won’t need to budget for a temporary hire to take on the extra workload; 
  • Recognizing the winners — budget for any rewards for the winners (certificates, trophies, promo materials for winners, etc.) as well as an awards ceremony if you decide to have one; 
  • Set aside a marketing budget  — while you will likely promote your awards mainly among your membership base, using your own marketing channels don’t forget to budget for social media ads, and other types of paid advertising that will spread the word further in your industry, etc. 

Not sure how to go about marketing your awards? We have just the thing

Invite outstanding jury members

The jury is crucial for your awards’ reputation so you need to ensure that you have the right experts onboard. A few things to consider: 

  • Look for renowned industry experts — if your association operates within a certain industry, it makes sense to gravitate towards experts in that field who will both lend credibility to your program and have the necessary expertise; 
  • Avoid conflict of interest — especially in the case of a more niche field, make sure that none of the jury members are affiliated with any entrant. To insulate your association and your awards from any possible risks include the relevant provision in the terms and conditions you make the judges agree to; 
  • Keep your jury happy — you want to make sure your jury doesn’t regret evaluating. To that end, try to provide them with a handy way to evaluate entries (such as a special portal) which ideally works on all devices.  

Plan on how to recognize the winners  

Don’t forget to plan on recognizing the winners and giving a shout-out to all entrants. You can do that with:  

  • A website — have a dedicated space to announce finalists and recognize winners; 
  • Prizes, marketing materials — plan on giving out physical trophies, promotional materials, digital seals, etc.
  • An awards ceremony — regardless of whether you opt for a live, online, or hybrid awards ceremony, having one is a great way to build a sense of community among your membership base and enable networking. 

Choose the right association awards management software 

The last (but definitely not least) winning tactic for organizing association awards includes picking the one software solution that will take care of the bulk of the above tips by streamlining your whole awards lifecycle and helping you grow. Evalato fits the bill by enabling you to: 

Collect entries 

You can easily embed Evalato’s registration form on your association’s website, without having to send your members to third-party websites. Your entrants meanwhile get a dedicated space where they can craft their applications to perfection, save and resume their work, and submit only when ready.  

Empower evaluation 

Evalato supports multiple voting options and provides your jury with a judging portal, accessible on any device that will keep your industry experts happy, maximizing the chances of them returning for the next edition of your awards. 

Select and announce winners 

Real-time scores and results management keep you in charge, while Evalato’s public applications page gives you a way to recognize winners regardless of whether you decide to hold an awards ceremony.   

Measure results and grow 

Detailed sales analytics provide you with insight on how to improve, and should you decide to turn your association’s awards into an annual or seasonal thing, Evalato enables you to clone the previous edition, and with just a few tweaks, you’ll be good to go with even less effort.  

The above is just a sample of some of Evalato’s functionalities that make the software the perfect association awards management tool. 

What’s more, with Evalato you can run other types of programs such as a call for abstracts, powerlists, competitions, CSR, and other programs.

The bottom line  

Association awards can really make a difference for your membership base, and with a tool like Evalato, organizing them is as easy as it gets. Don’t just take our word for it, try Evalato for free (no credit card required) and see for yourself. 

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