10 Questions to Consider When Planning an Award Program or Event
Award planning generally involves juggling multiple tasks, competing priorities, and tight deadlines. Before you get deep into the details, take a few moments with your team to review and discuss your collective purpose. Why do these awards matter to your organization? What will they mean to your honorees? How will these awards reflect your organization's values and priorities?
Take time to consider your honorees so that you can make thoughtful decisions about the type of awards that will best suit them. Whether you are honoring employees, teams, businesses, volunteers, association members, an experienced award vendor can recommend award styles and sizes to fit your budget and stay on brand.
Your budget will likely determine how many award categories you will have and how many awards you will present. It's best to confirm your budget early in the process so that you can determine the scope of program. Keep in mind that, if you are planning to ship awards to recipients that you will need to budget for shipping costs.
Also, don't be reluctant to share your budget numbers with your award vendor. Being up front about what you are prepared to spend will enable your vendor to determine which awards will work best for you.
While you may not know the exact number of awards you will need at the onset of planning, it's important that you can provide your award vendor with an estimated number of awards so that they can confirm availability for you. It's also important that you work backward from your event or kickoff date to make sure that you (and your award vendor) have ample time to prepare and deliver your awards.
If you haven't considered the role of implicit bias in award selection, now is a good time to examine your award program and ask yourself how you can reduce bias and improve diversity and inclusion.
We're finalizing our toolkit entitled Building an Inclusive and Effective Award Program. Contact us if you would like to be notified when the toolkit becomes available.
Whether you are planning a formal call for nominations, a committee review, a social media survey or some other method of gathering nominations, it's best to finalize these steps as early as possible in your awards process. It's also import to determine early on who will be selecting the honorees. If you have a ceremony date or event deadline, work backwards from that date, keeping in mind that you should give yourself 4-6 weeks to finalize your award order.
To ensure that your awards arrive on time and meet your expectations, it is critical to provide to your award vendor with award information that has been vetted, spell-checked, and approved. Revisions are time-consuming and can be costly.
Almost all award vendors require that you approve your artwork proofs before they begin production. Depending on the size of your award program, a careful proof review can take some time. Plan ahead.
Establishing deadlines for award shipments depends largely on your venue. If you plan to have your awards shipped to a trade show, hotel, or convention center, you will need to confirm logistics well in advance of your event date. For large award events, it is not uncommon to have the awards arrive at a convention site a full 3 or 4 weeks before the event. Hotels, on the other hand, will sometimes charge guests for storing packages for even a few days. Your award vendor can help you sort through this or work with your event/show planner if need be.
If you are planning a physical award ceremony, consider up front how your awards will be presented. Certain awards work better than others for presentation. For example, if you are presenting a team with an award and the team will be onstage to receive it, we generally recommend a larger award (like a 12x15 plaque) so that a tiny award object does not get lost in a team photo.
If you are planning a large event, determine your order of presentation BEFORE you send your award artwork to your vendor, then ask the vendor to sort, label, and box the awards in order of presentation. This will save you hours of time and effort on the day of your event.
If you are hiring a photographer to take photos of your award recipients, be sure to let your award vendor know before you select your awards. While a good photographer can adjust for most lighting circumstances, it's also nice to reduce complications (like glare) and improve overall effects (like readability or brand/logo display) if you can.