This is a 4-part series detailing strategies and ideas on how to use your awards program to generate revenue. 

Here, in part one, we look at some considerations around your award program being fit for paid entries and suggest some discount strategies to help drive competition and increase submitted entries.

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Providing discounts 

Revenue generation can be an important aspect of awards management. While program goals differ and often connect to higher-value outcomes like industry recognition and advancement, they can also be matched to revenue generation. 

In addition to the indirect revenue-generating benefits of outreach and community-building, an awards program can be another direct stream of revenue for your organisation.

For awards programs, one of the best ways to do this is to charge for the privilege of submitting an entry into your award program.

Should you charge for entries?

Program entry fees are not a one-size-fits-all solution for maximising revenue in your awards program. 

Charging for entries is a serious consideration. For industry award programs, you can easily justify charging for entries because your program is offering a chance to be recognised at an industry level with significant credibility for those who win or are placed as a finalist – so there’s real value there. 

For these types of awards programs, entry fees can actually increase the number of entries you receive. This is because people and organisations feel like the program is more credible when they have to invest financially for every entry they submit, even if the entry fee is small.

However, for nomination programs, it might not make sense to charge someone to submit their nomination, which will almost definitely result with a reduction of submitted nominations because there’s no real benefit to the person submitting the nomination. 

To ensure you’re making the right decision, consider the value your program offers, whether your program is industry-specific and the type of program you are running.

What to do if you don’t charge entry fees

Many programs don’t charge entry fees but still need to maximise their revenue. In part-4 of this series, we’ll discuss the following strategies for maximising revenue without charging for entries. 

  • Gallery exposure
  • Trophy purchase
  • Soliciting donations
  • Selling merchandise
  • Selling event tickets

Make sure you keep an eye open for future articles in this limited series.

Maximising revenue through paid entry discounts

If charging entry fees works for your program, consider these ideas on what you can do to increase submitted entries to maximise your revenues.

1. Offer volume-entry pricing and discounts

A great strategy to entice people and organisations to submit multiple entries is to reward them with entry volume discounts. Inform your entrants of the actual cost of an entry and justify the price based on the value your award program delivers, such as the calibre of judges, the standard of competition, the popularity of the program and benefits for the winners and finalists. 

But, why not offer a reward, in the form of a discount, for those who are submitting larger volumes of entries? Discounts are a tried and trusted method for encouraging people to take action and is well suited to awards programs. A volume discount is also a way for you to say  ‘thanks’ for their dedication, passion and support. 

Offering an entry volume discount is also communicating an expectation, a measurement of roughly how many entries your program is expecting, per entrant, based on averages. Anyone submitting entries above the expectation can be rewarded with a discount. For example, your program might historically expect 1 submitted entry per entrant but may also have a number of entrants who submit more. Tap into this interest and reward those who submit more than one entry, advertise the discounts and use this to drive competition and overall program entry volume, while at the same time, maximising your program revenue.

Example #1: Entry volume per entrant

Number of entries Discount %
1st entry 0% discount
Next 2 entries 10% discount
All subsequent entries 15% discount


Example #2: Entry volume per entrant per category

Number of entries per category Discount %
1st entry into category A 0% discount
2nd entry into category A 10% discount
All subsequent entries into category A 15% discount

Example #3: Entry volume per entrant per parent category

Number of entries per parent category Discount %
First 1 entries into parent category A 0% discount
All subsequent entries into parent category A 10% discount


An entrant submits 5 entries, all entries are in the parent category ‘Wildlife photography’ but distributed across 2 child categories: 2 entries are in ‘Birds’ and the other 3 are in ‘Animals’

Wildlife photography: Birds

  • Entry 1 = Full price
  • Entry 2 = 10% discount


Wildlife photography: Animals

  • Entry 1 = Full price
  • Entry 2= 10% discount
  • Entry 3 = 10% discount


2. Provide discounts for related entries 

There are scenarios where applying a discount based on entry volume won’t work but you still want to reward entrants with a discount based on other criteria. 

For example: Allowing entrants to submit their entry into multiple categories but only paying once. 

In your Award Force platform, an entry can only be submitted into one category, but you can allow your entrants to submit the same entry into multiple categories by creating copies. 

With Award Force you can take this a step further and only charge for the first submission. This can be achieved by instructing entrants to make copies of their original entry and submitting those copies into other categories while you manage the payment of these entries using a related entries rule.

By applying a related entry rule, you can offer entrants a huge incentive to submit their entry into multiple categories and only charge them for the first submitted entry, or, alternatively, apply a discount amount to their subsequent entries when they are duplicates of the first. 

For example, consider a music industry award where an artist wants to submit a song into the Dance, Pop, Rock and Singer-Songwriter categories. This would be a total of 4 entries, essentially all the same except for the category. By using a ‘related entries rule’ where the relationship between these entries is the same entrant plus the same song name, you can charge for the first entry while allowing the remaining 3 entries through, free of charge or at a discount.

So how can this assist with maximising revenue? Because entrants are not charged additional fees for the same project. 

By running a related entries rule, you encourage entrants to submit more entries and increase competition across all categories in your program at the same time.

It can also help drive new registrations, increase the number of returning entrants and provide you with more marketing opportunity. 

If you provide incentives and make it easier for people to participate by submitting the same entry across multiple categories without additional fees, the result will be happier entrants, more entries, healthier competition and an increased chance to maximise revenue. 

Conclusion – Part one

Providing incentives for entrants with discounts is a tried and trusted strategy. Some may feel offering discounts goes against the idea of generating more revenue but it can have the opposite effect.

But, remember, you also need a good communication and marketing strategy to ensure potential entrants are aware of the incentives. 

Enjoy this article? Keep an eye out for Part 2 next week where we’ll detail advice on entry specials and using early bird discounts effectively with staged fees. 

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