Building Your Special Event around an Awards Program

2010 DeKalb Public Safety Champion Awards

“Who is your Pubic Safety Champion?”

The DeKalb Police Alliance was trying to find a way to increase awareness and funding through their upcoming special event. They knew they needed that something special to tell their story and brand their event.

The 2010 DeKalb Public Safety Champion Awards filled the bill! The awards competition became the story, increasing interest in the organization and the upcoming Police Officers Ball. And, it became the linchpin that pulled together all the elements of the event.

The awards honored men and women in public safety and the community who went above and beyond the call of duty to keep everyone safe. An eye-catching nomination form highlighting the Champion Award statuette was key to all promotional activities, including presentations, press releases, social media initiatives and articles. An on-line nomination form gained the most nominations. All people and organizations nominated were recognized as Champion Honorees; the winners were recognized and saluted at the event.

Here are some hints on how you can create an awards program to better tell your story:

  1. Brainstorm – Invite board members and stakeholders to the table. Explore what type of awards program works best with your mission. With the police alliance it made sense to honor people committed to public safety. Look in your arena for best fits.
  2. Make sure you have buy-in from your board– This is key to your success.
  3. Check the Calendar – make sure no other organization is having a similar awards program around the same time as yours.
  4. Be creative and consistent with your messaging and graphic design – Be sure that you take full advantage of the program’s potential by weaving powerful messages and graphics throughout your event.
  5. Find an awards sponsor – Write your proposal to show the awards program benefits to sponsors.
  6. Publicize, publicize, publicize – Create a dynamic program using traditional and social media. Benchmark your successes and analyze responses to see what segment of your market you’re missing.
  7. Use the event wrap-up to position next year’s award program. Start building anticipation. Invite this year’s winners to reach out into their communities to nominate.

Your awards program will unearth many meaningful stories and help ensure your success. If you want guidelines for event management and sponsorships, please contact me directly –

The Power of Thank You

It All Starts With Thank You!

“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” GB Stern

Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Well, it is unfortunate how many nonprofits do not fully thank their donors.

Of course we thank them, you say.

But, are you sure?

I don’t believe for a second that the lapse is intentional. Now that I’m back on the other side of the fence responsible for implementation, I know how easy it is to inadvertently mess up.

The DeKalb Police Alliance like many organizations does not have a contact management database. All work to this point is done off of spreadsheets. So tracking is all but impossible.

This is not an unusual problem Most CRM databases are expensive. With donations down it is hard to justify the cost, especially when licenses and training on the system are not transferable from one staff person to another.

Then a colleague  suggested I check out for the Alliance. I knew I didn’t have the budget and could not justify even a seemingly inexpensive CRM program.

Imagine my surprise and delight to learn that has a Foundation.

“ set out to change the way companies think about philanthropy ten years ago, and today more than ever it continues to define us as a company.” Suzanne DiBianca, Executive Director Foundation.

The Foundation is based on a simple idea: Donate 1% of’s resources to support organizations that are working to make our world a better place.

I strongly suggest you check it out –

Thank you for all you do for your community. And, thank you for following my blog.

 Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to thanking our donors.