Tips for writing a strong award nomination

Write the best award submission

Before you send off your award nomination, check that you’ve included all the things that the selection committee expects to read about the person you’re nominating.

Ideally, you want a compelling award nomination that would help your nominee stand out against others. This is your one shot to help the selection committee get to know your nominee.

The selection committee expects to read about specific challenges that the nominee has faced, the actions they took to overcome these tough challenges, and the results or goals that the nominee met or have helped others meet.

The best way for you to do this is to clearly explain it and show examples of what the nominee has done that makes you think they’re exceptional enough to deserve the award.

Then back this up with concrete evidence of the positive impact that they had or made.

Sounds complex, but really isn’t. Here’s why…

As you can guess already, you must know your nominee well enough. If you know them, then writing your nomination should be a breeze.

And because you know them, your award won’t end up sounding like a profile that simply lists who the nominee is, what they do, their experience, what they’ve studied, the awards or other recognition that they’ve achieved, and whether they’re a volunteer.

Plus, since you know your nominee really well, you can avoid focusing on the ‘boring’ ordinary things that every Tom, Dick and Harriette have been doing. A compelling nomination only include relevant and interesting information that will distinguish your nominee.

So, what should an award nomination cover?

Each award committee will request nominee information differently. So, it’s a bit tricky for me to give you one-size-fits-all template to help you prepare your submission. However, I think it’s best if I simply explain what to consider including in your award nomination:

Introduce the nominee

All award nominations should include a section that introduces the nominee and why they deserve recognition. This is where you give relevant information that helps committee members become familiar with the nominee.

Explain why the nominee should be considered

This is your chance to impress the selection committee by writing an impressive response to the award criteria. But you need to go beyond the nominee’s CV.

Avoid making your nomination sound like a CV that focuses on the nominee’s educational achievements, employment history, special awards and the description of the job they were doing.

Instead, include the best examples that show what the nominee has done and accomplished and why they deserve an award for these achievements.

I also recommend the ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘When’, ‘Where’, Why’ and ‘How’ structure when doing this for each achievement:

Who did the nominee do it for?

Example: Talk about how they helped young women who were homeless at the time and who had no formal tertiary education but wanted to start their own businesses.

How did the nominee do it?


Talk about how they created a training and social program that saw educated businesswomen from the local community and beyond deliver workshops for the young participants. Mentored the young women to help them develop their businesses as well as leadership skills.

What did the nominee do? What challenges, if any, did they overcome, so they could do what they did?


Talk about how they mentored and motivated young women to become business owners helping their local communities. Had to give up a CEO position to open a community hub for these women. Also ran a 10km race to raise funds to operate the hub.

What were the results and impact on the cause/people/community?


Talk about how 100 young women started their own businesses and were also able to find and afford rental accommodation. This also meant increasing the number of local businesses, increasing the number of women in the local business community, as well as reducing the number of young people who were classified homeless.

And try to allocate the same word count for each example, so that you stick to the word count given (if there’s any).

Do your best to help the selection committee see what makes the nominee outstanding. They don’t want “just another so-and-so doing the normal stuff”.

Show that other people also think highly of the nominee

For this section, mention the relevant awards, certificates and other forms of recognition that are relevant to the award category.

Also grab at least three testimonials from people who have benefitted from the things that you said the nominee has done or who have observed how other people have benefitted. These testimonials act as evidence to further back your nomination.

Their testimonials combined should tell a good story that further convinces the selection committee that the nominee should be considered for the award.

This means asking specific questions to give you strong testimonials that would show how the nominee did the following (if appropriate):

+ took an initiative to do something extraordinary to help others in the community
+ identified a creative way to do it and worked hard to achieve their goals
+ broke any barriers that could have prevented them from achieving these goals
+ became a role model and/or mentor and encouraged good citizenship
+ left a lasting impact on others in their community and industry
+ helped to improve and enrich the lives of other people
+ paved the way for others to benefit from these actions, potentially for many generations
+ showed good leadership and commitment
+ devoted their time to volunteering
+ made a huge difference

Also, ensure the testimonials align with the selection criteria for the category.

Look for a combination of people who can provide these testimonials. For example, in the previous example about young women who used to be homeless, you’d approach at least one of these women for their testimonials. You’d also ask an expert or leader in the industry or in the community.

Remember this when writing a nomination…

Awards are for individuals who have done exceptional things. As such, it’s important that you nominate someone who has done exceptional things. It’s also crucial that you help them stand out so the committee chooses them.

Need help with your next award nomination? I’m only an email away. Reach out now.

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