8 Tips and Strategies to Help Build a Stronger Citizens Awards Nomination

April 8, 2019

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Awards recognizes the most strategic and innovative corporate citizenship programs from businesses, chambers, and associations of all sizes.

From philanthropy to shared value to corporate social responsibility—the Citizens Awards honors the partnerships and organizations that leverage their resources, expertise, and talent to make a positive impact. If your company is serving as a force for good in communities, share your story with us by submitting a nomination. Below are a few helpful tips and strategies to keep in mind as you build your nomination. And remember, the deadline is June 28! 

Check to make sure you are eligible

The Corporate Citizenship Awards are open to businesses of all sizes, trade associations, and chambers of commerce. Third parties (PR firms, nonprofit partners) may nominate a company, association, or a chamber. (But make sure the company knows they are being nominated!) We’ve had a number of winners who came in from third party nominations.

Please note: Past winners are not eligible to submit an application for two years in the category for which they won. However, those who fall under this umbrella are more than welcome to apply in other categories!

Make yourself known

After you ensure your eligibility, it’s time to get started on your nomination! Early on in your application, make sure to include a sentence or two explaining what your organization does. Make sure that judges reading the nomination know who you are and can understand how your organization relates to the issue you’re trying to solve.

Similarly, the judges may not be familiar with your organization’s programs so remember to spell out acronyms whenever possible.

Put yourself in the judges’ shoes (and mind!)

Judges are selected by the U.S. Chamber Foundation and represent corporate citizenship professionals and experts from nonprofits, academia, chambers of commerce, and state/local government. Each nomination will be read by 5 to 7 experts in business, corporate citizenship, or the specific issue covered in the programmatic categories.

Judges volunteer their time and there are a number of applications for them to review, so as you craft your nomination, make it as easy as possible for a judge to understand:

  • Your company
  • Your program goals
  • Your impact and why it’s significant

Additionally, the judges have a knowledge of the field, but may or may not be familiar with your program of work. One helpful step before submitting your application is to have someone unfamiliar with your project read your nomination—can they understand the key points?

Tell your story in a compelling way

As you craft your application, think about the story you are trying to tell, the key message you want to drive home, and make sure you’re positioning your organization in the right way. As a reminder, we don’t accept supplemental materials. So make sure the text you include is able to tell that story in a compelling way.

Show us your stakeholders

Within your application, be sure to share the key players who shaped, validated, and engaged in your work. Stakeholder engagement is a way to illustrate the thought and strategy behind a program or initiative. Try to answer the following questions:

  • Who are the players?
  • What are their roles?
  • How and why were certain stakeholders engaged? Describe how all the stakeholders relate and interact to ensure successful implementation.
  • Consider who should be included—supply chain, implementing partners, internal stakeholders or departments, community partners? All of these provide depth and help tell your story to the judges

Understand shared value

Shared Value is a management strategy where companies find business opportunities in social problems. At its core, shared value is about doing well by doing good.

Communicating shared value within your nomination is a must-do for the corporate steward awards, and a strategic advantage for the programmatic categories.

Ask yourself: How is your company finding business opportunities in social problems? How does that affect your overall business? Your employees? Your communities?  

Include any information that shows shared value was considered as you built your program.

Know your impact

The judges give weight to both depth and breadth of a project’s impact. It’s important to convey the project’s goals and how you achieved them through your work. What were your benchmarks? What were your planning goals and strategy behind them? How were partners involved in determining your impact?

Judges to consider both efficient and impressive impact: impact and change that is far reaching, as well as targeted and smaller in scale. For every winner that is reaching millions of people with their work, we have another that won for their impact within one community.

It’s also important to note that impact is the most heavily weighted section on the application, so make sure to be thoughtful about this portion.

Pay attention to data

Data is an important part of the overall story you are trying to tell to the judges—both the long-term data and the recent data.

Including statistics and results can help tell the broader story of your sustained efforts over a long period of time—but make sure recent data is included as well. Judges are specifically asked if recent data (from the last two years) was included, so make sure you have some metrics to show.

Additional tips and reminders:

  • Proofread! The system doesn’t have spell check, write your nomination in word.
  • Nominations can be submitted in more than one category.
  • We have word templates of the questions and word counts. Please email our team if you would like one of those!
  • Remember the nexus of issues! If your work touches on more than one category, consider submitting it in both.

For any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to email the Chamber Foundation team at cccawards@uschamber.com.