Turn “Thank You” into Ongoing Growth and Development


shutterstock_189390395 - happy child award trophyWe all know how great it feels to be recognized and applauded for a job well done, and you can shine a spotlight on emerging leaders and key issues by creating a leadership recognition program. But before you dive in, answer these three questions — they’ll help you build a program that meets your own needs and acknowledges those you want to reward.


1. Who benefits?

Consider these four stakeholders:

  • Your honorees – By acknowledging those who lead a nonprofit, you open doors to their future success, helping them gain recognition, legitimacy — and, perhaps, greater funding.
  • Your honoree’s organization – Your acknowledgment benefits organizations as well as individuals, creating new awareness and helping the group build capacity, collaborate, and strengthen its reputation.
  • Your honoree’s field – When you honor a particular person in a field, you increase awareness of the entire issue.
  • Your foundation – When you acknowledge others, your foundation benefits as well. People will notice that your foundation is building awareness, working with partners, and identifying new experts in the field.

2. Whom should you recognize?

There are four areas you can consider for recognition. You can select one, several, or all.

  • Age and stage – Design your award program around a particular age group or those who have achieved a specific stage of development.
  • Community – Recognize emerging or well-known leaders from a specific culture or an underserved group.
  • Issue area – Focus on one area (such as the arts) or on a specific benchmark (quality of care for seniors). You might couple this with another area (recognizing someone from the LGBT community who is doing amazing work in senior care).
  • Sector – Look outside nonprofits and recognize those in business or government who have contributed significantly to a designated field of interest.

3. How do you build the program?

Once you’ve decided whom to recognize and what the benefits are, take the following six steps to move your efforts from a recognition event to a true leadership-development program.

  • Recognize the leader.
  • Provide money or time.
  • Organize a convening.
  • Provide access to decision makers.
  • Offer continued training.
  • Plan for additional support.

Honoring the leaders with whom you work can be valuable and strategic for your foundation. For more details on how to do this effectively, click here to read the full article.

Kris Putnam-Walkerly is a philanthropy expert and consultant. If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2014.

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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