How awards programmes help associations expand their membership base

6 January 2024 by
Memcom, Rachel Appleton

An awards programme has multiple benefits for associations, including industry visibility, and membership engagement and retention. Arguably the most notable, however, is attracting new members — a coveted goal for any association. Read on to see how this happens exactly and how you can leverage your association awards programme to expand your membership base.

How an awards programme helps with member acquisition

Let’s start with some basic benefits of an awards programme that generally have a positive impact on your association: 

  • Awards are great for publicity — this is true for any organisation that sets up an awards programme, including associations. The positive buzz meanwhile could prompt new members to join;  
  • Awards are good for networking — organising awards comes with networking opportunities allowing you to present your association to prospective members. The awards ceremony is the most prominent opportunity, however, awards also give you the option to organise seminars and webinars, which could be open to prospective members, along with judges and sponsors; 
  • Awards give you more marketing power — awards come with marketing power and in the case of your association, your members, programme jury, as well as your sponsors are also likely to spread the word, potentially reaching new members.

The above more or less happens when you organise an awards programme, even if you don’t walk the extra mile to maximise your awards programme’s potential — it’s just the inherent power of awards.

Awards programmes suitable for associations

Naturally, a more focused approach to attracting new members with awards will yield better results, starting with selecting the right type of programme to organise. Check out the following options: 

  • Industry awards — if your association deals with a specific industry, going the route of recognising industry achievements is a fairly safe choice;
  • Powerlists  those are a good option for recognising both individuals or organisations, for example, in terms of industry influence;
  • Indexes — you can use this option to celebrate specific achievements, for example, related to worthy causes, best practices, etc., which your association and your association members support;
  • Social impact programmes  this is another option for both doing good and using positive publicity to attract new association members.   

How to leverage your programme’s impact

In addition to choosing the most fitting type of awards programme for your association, there is a lot more that you can do to maximise its impact:

  • Discounts for members — if your awards are paid and open to entries outside your membership base, a special discount for your members, or including participation in your membership fee could entice others to consider joining your association;  
  • Jury roles — you can invite people from organisations you are targeting as members to take part in your awards as judges. This gives you an excellent opportunity to showcase your association. In this case, however, you need to ensure an absolutely perfect judging experience so as not to get the opposite effect;  
  • Focus on networking events such as workshops and webinars related to your awards programme, inviting non-members. 
  • Fine-tune your marketing efforts — with awards being a powerful marketing tool, it is up to you to use it to its full potential. Find the right audiences and media channels, in addition to making sure that your programme has a compelling online presence; 
  • Provide feedback to entrants and promote your awards as a learning experience. This will attract new members who would wish to join this type of community;
  • Present the winners — giving winners recognition, showcasing their achievements, and enabling them to use the awards as marketing (for example, supplying them with digital certificates and seals, press templates, social media visuals, etc.) could entice potential members who would also be willing to get those perks.    

How using awards software can help you out

While you can organise an awards programme using spreadsheets, the right awards management software can help you maximise its impact:

  • Streamline your processes — from setting up your programme, through the registration, application, and evaluation phases, and announcing results, the software will save you time and resources which you can direct to promoting your association and attracting new members;
  • Make your programme look more professional — these solutions usually feature a submission portal that makes your programme seem more reputable and trustworthy which can rarely be said about a spreadsheet, for example;   
  • Ensure a user-friendly process for applicants and judges — this is of major importance for both member retention and acquisition.   


Why Evalato? 

While any solution can help you with the above to some extent, Evalato walks the extra mile thanks to the following features:

  • Embeddable registration form — you can embed the awards program’s registration form directly on your association’s website, boosting conversions; that said, Evalato also offers you a ready-made webpage;
  • Enhanced category structure — Evalato’s category structure with groups and subgroups allows you to include as many categories as needed, including for members and non-members;
  • Secure payments and discounts — Evalato enables you to give exclusive deals to your current or prospective members;
  • Top-notch applicant portal — your applicants get a dedicated, sleek, and user-friendly space to work on their entries; 
  • Next-gen judging portal — your judges evaluate entries with ease on any personal device; you meanwhile can add terms and conditions to sidestep conflict of interest (a real concern if your association operates in a niche industry);
  • A dedicated winners webpage — this will also help you promote your awards to potential members;
  • Analytics and data export — Evalato gives you all the insight you need to improve the next edition of your association awards programme.

The above is just a small part of how Evalato can help you make the most out of your awards programme and attract new members to your association. If you want to see how it works, you can easily explore on your own with a free account.

Memcom, Rachel Appleton 6 January 2024
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