Why Investing in an Awards Event Brings Results
25 July 2018 at 1:59 pm
You can’t be what you can’t see, a saying goes. So for an organisation, investing in an annual awards event is an effective way to model good practice and escalate positive change, a leading social sector CEO says.
Speaking to Pro Bono News on the eve of Philanthropy Australia’s fourth annual Australian Philanthropy Awards at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday, CEO Sarah Davies said the event was a relatively big investment for PA, but worth it.
Two employees work for four to five months on the awards, there was the direct cost of the event itself and the sizeable contribution from PA members volunteering in the research and processing of nominees.
Davies said the awards platform was a brilliant way to achieve two key things for PA’s mission – highlight, communicate and demonstrate good practice, and create the cultural change your organisation wants.
“What you do is create a blueprint that other people can pick up and apply or cherry pick the practices they like,” Davies said.
“So in terms of trying to encourage the escalation and the pickup of good practice to create positive change, awards are a great way to demonstrate what that looks like in a way that is accessible, and non-threatening and exciting for the rest of the community or the sector.”
Davies said the awards’ second key outcome engendering cultural change was equally as important as the first of modelling behaviour, but it was “a massive ask” and long-term strategy.
“Philanthropy needs to be celebrated in Australia. There’s not a culture or or a history we have of celebrating philanthropy and we really need to change that,” Davies said.
“The awards are a deliberate, explicit mechanism to celebrate and appreciate the contribution that philanthropy makes to our world. Because it is really significant but it’s quite often invisible.”
She said Australian philanthropy tended to be characterised by “huge humility, flying under the radar, about the work and the change, not about the givers”.
“That’s fine because it is actually the work we are trying to achieve,” Davies said.
“But in order to encourage other people to do it, we need to normalise it and we need to say this is really exciting. One of the dangers of having it so hidden and so quiet is that people don’t realise what it is achieving for them.
“So if you don’t know that a major agent of change is philanthropy then you won’t value it, because, as the saying goes ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’.”
The Australian Philanthropy Awards recognise and celebrate extraordinary achievements in contemporary philanthropy for work that is visionary, high impact and transformative.