Most organizations present awards to employees, volunteers, or partner organizations. When I worked in school public relations, spring was award season. Nearly every student organization had an awards banquet, there were teachers of the year awards, administrator of the year awards, awards for volunteers, and awards for school-community partnerships. We had a big fall awards banquet to celebrate the founding of the district, but most of the awards were presented during the spring.
Who you recognize says something about you
Everything you do says something about your organization, including who you recognize with awards. Your communications plan should include a way to recognize people who support your organization as well as successful partnerships. Sometimes even recognizing a person or group that has not directly supported your organization can be beneficial.
Is there a group that supports your organization’s mission? Is there a media outlet that has given positive coverage to causes your organization supports? It would be worth exploring the possibility of presenting awards to these groups and individuals even if your paths have never crossed.
It can be better to give than to receive
A non-profit service group I belong to held an awards banquet one spring. The group presented a media award to a local radio personality for the funds he raised for veterans, children’s hospitals, schools, and other causes that my group supported. The award winner was excited to receive his award and his remarks validated the group’s decision to recognize him. The following day, this radio personality talked about the awards banquet for 12 minutes. This was free publicity for my group and the airtime highlighted the work my group does. It was clear from his comments that his evening with us was an event he would not soon forget.
This was a positive experience for everyone. The radio personality was appropriately recognized by our group even though he had never directly supported our group before. Our group got free media coverage. Most importantly, the causes we both support were highlighted and recognized. Our group’s outreach to the radio personality built a small bridge between us that cost us very little but yielded worthwhile results. While it is great when your organization wins awards, sometimes it is better to give than to receive. Make sure your communications plan includes these special opportunities for recognition.