Associations exist as a way to unite professionals in similar fields and industries to come together for the mutual benefit of each others’ memberships to the organization. One of the ways that these associations honor and celebrate the movers and shakers within their memberships is through an awards program. However, does your program measure up in today’s modern Associations Community? Let’s find out through the next three-point checklist.
1. Does it recognize the younger generation?
A great way to recognize the achievements of the younger generation is through a 40 under 40 program. With more and more younger people stepping up to the plate and making career-defining achievements under the age of 40, having an awards program in place that recognizes their achievements is a great way to engage with them. It’s also a great way of creating further outreach within the community to expand the membership to younger working professionals.
Here’s a tip from Association Insiders: look for people who have a story to tell – a picture tells a thousand words, but a story shows a thousand pictures.
2. Does it provide added value?
The awards ceremony shouldn’t end at the recipient putting the award on his/her desk – it should serve as a source of networking and connection for recipients, guests, executives, and association members.
For example; if the awards program highlights notable college entrepreneurs, having programming in place so that the award opens doors in the form of exclusive networking events and mentoring opportunities with executives adds value. This can also build rapport and connection between the recipient and your organization, potentially strengthening the pipeline to your membership pool moving into the future.
Insider tip: Hire a social media expert who can help your organization increase the value of being given the honor of the award. By building traction around the conference and increasing the name-value of the award, you’re increasing the name-value of the association and the recipients of the award as well.
3. Do your attendees stay throughout the whole ceremony?
Nobody expects it to be the Oscars, but nothing’s worse than an awards ceremony where even the recipients feel so bored out of their minds that they duck out after receiving their honors.
I recently attended a very well-organized award ceremony at the Canadian Embassy here in DC, organized by a nonprofit that provides younger women with unprecedented career and networking opportunities on the hill. Instead of having the awards be given out one-by-one throughout the course of the ceremony, the organizers sought a “flipped-ceremony” approach. The nominations were first announced at a sit-down reception that was then followed by an engaging panel discussion by a few Congresswomen. The awards were only presented at the end of the cocktail hour where heavy hors d’oeuvres and free flow of drinks were served for attendees and guests, to which recipients were honored one-by-one on stage. It was a guest lecture, party, and an awards ceremony all-in-one. Almost no guest left early, and the ceremony felt jam-packed with activity.