Organising awards is a challenge for any association out there and yet, absolutely worth it if done the right way. So, in an effort to help you out, we’ve prepared the top 10 tips for getting a successful programme off the ground. Read on to learn all about it.

1. Set goals to form a solid foundation for your programme.

Your goals form the basis of your awards programme. Take a look at some ideas of possible goals for your association awards:

      Recognise achievements  you can opt to celebrate milestones your members have achieved in your industry, recognize their overall performance, and so on.   

      Lift engagement  awards can boost your members’ engagement with your association during the entire lifecycle of your programme;

      Boost your association’s reputation  an awards programme will bring positive attention to your association (online buzz, media coverage, social media shares, likes, comments, etc.), with every subsequent edition amplifying the effect. 

      Get new members on board  the buzz and reputation of your awards programme could attract new entrants (especially if you opt to make your awards an annual occurrence) and prompt them to join your association.

2. Decide on the type of association awards you want to organise.

Once you set your goals, choose the type of awards you want to run. As an association, you have multiple awards options for your members — business awards, powerlists, awards recognising industry contributions, a competition to drive member engagement, etc. Choose the type that fits your goal(s) best.

3. Make a decision on whether to charge entry fees.  

Awards can be a great source of revenue for your association, which is where entry fees come in. Charging entry fees will also boost the credibility of your programme 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 programmes or in the case of powerlists.

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

4. If you charge entry fees, do it the right way.

While the choice is yours either way, if you do decide to charge entry fees, here’s how to get the best results:

      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;

      Add 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 convenient and secure — offer multiple payment options and do not compromise on the security of payments.

5. Plan the ultimate timeline for your awards.

Work on a timeline for your awards. Start with 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 your way back, 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.

6. Decide on the right budget for your awards.

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

      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.

7. Invite outstanding industry experts to your jury.

The jury is crucial for your awards’ reputation so you need to ensure that you have the right experts onboard. A couple of 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;

      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. 

8. Avoid any possible conflict of interest.

Especially in the case of a more niche industry, you run the risk of a possible conflict of interest. So, make sure that none of the jury members are affiliated with any entrant. To completely 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.

9. Decide 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.

The last tip for organizing association awards includes picking a 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 — Evalato’s registration form can be embedded on your association’s website, boosting conversions. Your entrants meanwhile get a dedicated space to work on their entries and submit only when ready. 

      Empower evaluation — choose from multiple voting options and provide your jury with a judging portal, accessible on any device that will keep your industry experts happy.

      Select and announce winners — stay in charge with real-time scores and results, and use Evalato’s public applications page to recognize winners.  

      Measure results and grow — detailed sales analytics provide you with insight on how to improve and make the next edition of your programme more successful. 

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

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

This content is partnership content provided by TAF’s awards management partner, Evalato.

Back to News

Subscribe To Our Monthly Newsletter

Get notified about the latest TAF news, invites to events and exclusive offers.