Awards and your Partnership - How to Apply for Awards for Your Partnership

If your community business partnership is a successful one and is doing great work in your area, you are probably already looking at ways it can be further recognised for what it does.

This recognition can be achieved in a number of ways – through publicity in the local, regional or state media, successfully gaining grants through any number of sources or simply through recognition in the community in which your partnership works.

Another way of gaining that recognition is to apply for an award for your partnership.

Why Apply?

There are a few reasons to apply for an award – most of them centring on the benefits the recognition of an award would produce. Some of those reasons are:
  • A boost in self esteem for the partnership as a whole, as well as for those involved in the community group and business that make up the partnership.
  • An increase in profile if the partnership or its projects are successful. This means more opportunities for people to know what you are doing – especially in your local area – and the chance of greater participation from them in your activities. It could also mean your partnership carries a little more "sway" among the public and influential people where you operate.
    • Another way it could boost your partnership's profile is the ability to use the term "award winner" on a letterhead or in correspondence.
  • Winning an award is likely to result in extra publicity for your partnership through the media or in the community generally, leading to that rise in profile and the benefits which come with it.
  • Your finances could be boosted, as many awards are accompanied by a prize or by cash.
  • Even applying or nominating for an award is a great way of showing your appreciation to your supporters, partnership partners and everyone else involved.
  • One award could lead to further awards, multiplying the benefits listed above.
  • It can lead to great networking opportunities through awards events - meeting contacts or even being invited to future speaking engagements as an award winner.
  • Your partnership deserves it!

How to Apply for an Award

In what is a similar situation to that when your partnership applies for a grant (refer to the Help Sheet series Grants and Your Partnership, available at the Our Community website), there are likely to be a number of rules or criteria you have to fulfil when applying for an award.

While there is no guarantee you will win an award even if you fulfil all the criteria needed, entering an award despite not fulfilling them is a waste of time – time that could be better invested in making your partnership even better.

Once you have read the award criteria, and are happy your partnership is eligible, there are a few further steps you should follow in submitting your entry.

You will find many of the following steps similar to those listed below in the Help Sheet Gaining Grants for your Partnership – A Dozen Steps to Grant Application Success – this is because, like applying for a grant, applying for an award requires entrants to follow certain rules and fulfil certain criteria.

Some of the things you should do include:
  • Researching the funding body. Find out the types of projects they have previously funded – it may give you more of an idea if their award is the right one for you to enter.
  • Putting together a list of all the supporting documents or evidence that the award body has asked for. Then, compile the material.
  • Ensuring both partnership partners have input into the submission.  This is particularly important given the award criteria is likely to ask for information from both partners about their contributions to, and thoughts on, the partnership.
  • Making your entry attractive to judges. Tell them why it deserves to win through explanations of the good work your partnership has done. Again, with accompanying material, get documents supporting what your partnership or its project has done. Don't just say what you do. Explain the impact your organisation has on the wider community, highlight your achievements and why your group makes such a difference.
  • Tailor your entry to the award criteria. Don't just go and submit an entry you have previously put in for another award program without changing it!
  • Being truthful, and backing up what you say in your submission with solid evidence. Make sure what you have written about in your award entry has actually occurred. And while you shouldn't stretch the truth, you can talk up what your partnership has achieved – especially by providing information about how it has helped the community or has achieved good things in the field applicable to the award.
  • Complying with any cut-off dates. If there is a cut off date - either for your award entry or for the time span in which projects or tasks will be judged – then check them out and comply with them. Also, aim to have your award application submitted comfortably before the closing date.
  • If you need to, asking for more information. It is better to ask a question and get an answer than not to, and get something wrong in your application.
  • Making sure every question that needs to be answered on the entry form is answered.
  • Sticking to the guidelines and providing the material or supporting documentation – as well as the entry itself – in a format the award body wants. "Following the guidelines" doesn't mean doing what is easiest for your group. Follow the guidelines with your entry.
  • Proofreading your award entry for spelling and grammar, and then getting someone else to proofread your entry for spelling and grammar.
  • If appropriate, get letters of support from someone familiar with the partnership.

Who You Can Apply To?

There are a number of bodies and organisations that partnerships can look at when thinking about applying for an award.

  • One of the more obvious ones in Australia is the Prime Ministers Awards for Excellence in Community Business Partnership.
    • This award is specifically aimed at community business partnerships and has a number of categories each year at both state level and national level.
  • Other possibilities when looking for an award you can enter involve using the information and contacts you probably already have. They include:
    • The community group knowing people or award bodies in its area of expertise.
    • Similarly, the business partner may have knowledge of awards available through its contacts.
    • Local authorities could have their own awards programs – local councils or local State or Federal MPs for example.
    • The State or Federal Governments may have award programs that could suit you – talk to your local MPs to see if they do.
    • Chambers of Commerce or business groups can often have awards programs available as well.
Remember – if your local council, Chamber of Commerce or other bodies don't have awards programs for partnerships, tell them they should. Say to them they should establish these programs in order to encourage other groups to establish partnerships.
  • Finally, Our Community's Scholarships and Awards newsletter lists a number of awards and scholarships which may be suitable for your group. The newsletter comes out monthly, with subscriptions available through the Our Community website at: