Oops! 4 Mistakes Associations Make When Planning Awards Programs

Oops! 4 Mistakes Associations Make When Planning Awards Programs

There’s one thing we can all agree on: planning an awards program is hard work. You’ve got to set dates, plan the gala, monitor submissions, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes in the flurry some aspects of the planning process are forgotten or just plain left out. It happens to the best of us.

It may not always seem like a big deal, but some mistakes can have disastrous results. For example, taking the attitude of “Oh, we’ll just figure it out when we get to it.” Let’s be real: how often does winging it work? Not often.

Take a look at this list we’ve compiled of mistakes that associations often make when planning an awards program and the ways to avoid them yourself.

1. Winging it

As we know, planning an awards program is a big job. Some people take the approach that they’ll just figure it out as they go along. This isn’t a good idea! Winging it increases the chance that you’ll forget something important, or a some unforeseen disaster will sneak up on you (like forgetting to order the awards).

Fix it: Instead of just planning as you go, take a moment and figure out the goals of your program. This will help keep your planning focused, showing you where you need to go.

2. Forgetting to Set a Budget

Which would you rather tell your team:
A) “We met our revenue projections!”
B) “We’re in the hole. Deep.”

Setting a budget that’s realistic and attainable is crucial. There are always hidden costs you may not realize until its too late.

Fix it: Consider all the possible costs associated with your program (the gala, the awards themselves…) and list them out. Use the list to help you set a budget your team can stick to.

3. Ignoring Timing

Timing is so important!! (So much so that it requires two exclamation points). Before you set a date for your gala you have to make sure it doesn’t conflict with any other major annual association activities or holidays. Setting up your call for entry and gala during a time when potential applicants are too busy doing something else will have a negative impact on submissions and engagement.

Fix it: Start by checking your calendar and setting a date for your gala and working backwards from there, calculating how long each portion of your program will take.

4. Not planning out categories

Your categories should support the mission and purpose of the parent organization, reflect the values of your organization, and recognize achievement that corresponds with the goals of the association. If you have too many categories, it diminishes the value of each award – like giving every kid on every soccer team a participation trophy. Give too few awards, and you may not be able to recognize outstanding entries that really don’t fit into a particular category.

Fix it: Look at what your program is really about and the categories you’ve created. Do they align with the purpose? Figure out exactly what you want applicants to submit. Distill and divide these criteria in your categories.

What lessons have you learned over the years of planning your association awards?

To learn more about faux-pas associations make (and how to avoid them) download our guide!

Photo Source: darkuncle via Flickr