April 14, 2014
Many associations offer an annual awards program where they honor outstanding members of their industry. These events can be a great fundraiser for the group and raise awareness for the industry, as well as promote excellence in your field. Once your nominations committee has selected the group of honorees for your year, what do you do to leverage them?
Here are some tips for making the most of your honorees, especially when they’re high-profile leaders in your field:
Before the Event
- Explain the award clearly. Your honoree might not have heard of your award, so you need to educate them about what it means and who has received the award in previous years.
- Get them excited. If you have an esteemed honoree, it’s likely that they receive awards often. It might feel like just another luncheon or gala on their calendar, but you should show them what the award will mean to them and why they should be thrilled!
- Be upfront about what you need from them. From the beginning, lay out all the responsibilities that come with accepting the award. They may be expected to purchase a table at your event, buy an ad in your event journal, give a speech, submit photos and a bio of themselves, attend receptions and a host of other responsibilities. Make sure they are aware of what you expect of them so they won’t be surprised later.
After the Event
- Keep your award honorees in the fold. You don’t want them to accept their award and then disappear forever. Offer them a spot on the nominations committee for the following year or, if appropriate, on your Board of Directors.
- Invite them to next year’s event. Make sure they receive the invitation for the next event. Consider sending a handwritten note encouraging them to attend.
- Encourage them to donate to your organization. Don’t be afraid to ask honorees to contribute in some way to your organization’s mission. They probably walked away from your event with a warm-and-fuzzy feeling about your group, so it’s a good opportunity to ask them to donate while they’re thinking about you.
- Continue to highlight them in writing. Make sure that the honoree’s name is added to the hall of fame on your website. You may want to repurpose a profile of them or a transcript of their speech and use it as content on your website, newsletter or social media. If they’re willing, ask them to write a guest post on your blog about their career or even their experience of receiving their award.
Your awards program is likely one of the highlights of your year, so make sure you are leveraging your award recipients. That way, you can gain an influential advocate for your organization and extend the power of your program throughout the year.