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Learning Series: Determining Eligibility Requirements

Learning Series: Determining Eligibility Requirements

Above all else, awards programs must be fair and representative. After all, those who enter your program must feel as if they have a chance of winning or at least the entry that does win earned it.

The simplest way to keep a program fair and representative is to keep the entrant pool homogeneous. The best way to do so is to by constructing eligibility requirements to ensure all entrants are similar enough to be fairly judged by the same criteria. In this article, we’ll discuss six eligibility requirements worth considering.

1. Type of Work

The work submitted must share one of several features to keep entrants similar. Just some of these features may include:

  • Specific topics
  • Particular materials; or
  • Specific budgets

What’s important is that you identify a criteria that defines what your program is about and does so in a specific, measurable way.

2. Timing

Most awards programs accept entries from the previous year. You must determine the specific date range that makes the most sense for your organization to keep things fair.

3. Number of Simultaneous Categories

Some entries may fit into multiple categories. But will you allow entrants to submit entries into each category or limit them to just one?

If your program is designed to recognize something very specific, you should likely limit the entry to one category. If not, you may want to allow entrants to submit to multiple categories, especially if you want to generate additional revenue.

4. Size

Restrict submission size – both digitally and physically – to ensure one entrant did not submit something much larger or smaller than someone else.

You may also impose size limitations for entrants themselves. For example, a startup business competition may require each entrant to be in business for a certain number of years to be eligible.

5. Origin

By origin, we mean geographic area. Many programs limit their audience to the United States or limit it further to a specific region within the United States.

6. Availability

Some programs find it crucial that products or services being entered are available to the general public and aren’t necessarily a one-of-a-kind device or prototype.

Which of These Requirements Apply to Your Program?

Typically, it’s easiest to begin with a number of generic criteria and then get more specific as you identify a specific type of entrant or entry you wish to attract and align with your organization.

If you’re interested in learning more about eligibility requirements, purchase our book, Awards 101: The Missing Manual for Awards Professionals! Within, you’ll find 10 chapters of tips and strategies to take you from a general awards overview through each stage of the cycle to your gala.

Get the book here for Kindle or as a hard copy!

Ashley Surinak is the resident OpenWater expert on all things content. From the blog to guides and beyond, you'll find her at every turn in your OpenWater journey.

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