Did you watch the Grammys? Are you geared up for the Emmys? How about the Kid’s Choice Awards? SAG awards? People’s Choice Awards? Lately, I feel that at every turn, there is another awards show or banquet that is being publicized. Or, there is one that I will attend for one of my children, or a friend or a brother-in law or a cousin. You get the point…but, it’s not just Hollywood or in our own lives that awards are being given out in rapid fashion. Presenting an award or honoring someone special in the not for profit world is also quite prevalent…and it’s our job to make sure it’s the right person and the right way to celebrate this amazing person.
As we are surrounded by awards being given at every turn, I think it is important for not for profits to really think through whom they would like to honor, why they selected them and how they would like to show their gratitude. One not for profit that I am engaged with recently had a discussion at a committee meeting about who they would like to honor at their gala this year. When I asked what the criteria were for selecting an honoree, no one had a clear idea. It gave us all the opportunity to determine the criteria of how to best select an honoree. Is it giving level? Is it the number of years on the board that makes someone an honorary board member? And, how do we honor them? Is it simply a listing on an invitation? Or, is it a public presentation at a gala or an annual meeting? Developing our criteria was important as it provided a solid framework to guide our selection process.
Another organization that I worked with did have criteria in selecting and honoring a special person to the agency, however, it hadn’t been revised or changed in many years and had grown stale. They also held a donor reception every year where a notable person received an award, yet, the attendance was declining. A brief survey revealed that the event was a bit stale and while people were interested in continuing an annual event, a venue change was needed and a fresher format of the evening was also key.
In times like these when so many are awarded all around us, both on TV and in our communities, we want to be sure that our efforts are meaningful to the honoree, well represent the agency and inspire others. Having clear ideas and specific criteria help to properly honor the wonderful champion of any organization. Our job, with criteria in hand, is to make sure that our honoree feels special…that the guests feel inspired and that the way in which we honor those dear to our organizations doesn’t feel like it’s just another event or awards banquet to attend. It feels right…it feels special.
by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HUB Philanthropic Solutions