How to Plan a Recognition Event

Recognition events are great ways to shine a spotlight on how your organization is making your community healthier and more vibrant. The goal is to celebrate your organization’s accomplishments, engage your key stakeholders, and acknowledge the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) funding you received.

Your recognition event can take place at the beginning, middle or end of your grant – whenever it makes the most sense for your organization to do it. Due to COVID-19, we ask that any recognition event be virtual. It can be a stand-alone event, or you can incorporate it into something else that you are already doing online. For example, it can be a program launch, AGM, press conference, opening ceremony, ribbon cutting, groundbreaking, photo opportunity, open house, festival, or even an end of year event. OTF requests a minimum of three weeks’ notice to plan each grantee’s recognition event.

As part of your recognition event, you are required to :

  • Engage with your OTF Communications Advisor to discuss ideas before invitations are issued
  • Invite your local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) who will acknowledge the funding
  • Develop promotional material such as a media release

Inviting your local Member of Provincial Parliament

When preparing your event, it is best to plan around your local MPPs schedule. When the Legislature is in session, Friday events are preferable since MPPs are unavailable from Monday to Thursday. If a mid-week time is selected for your event, please know that you may be asked to re-schedule, this also stands for virtual events.

For the most up to date calendar for MPPs, check the Legislative Calendar.

Cabinet Ministers

If you are planning to invite an MPP who is a Cabinet Minister, one month’s notice would be preferable.

Ridings

Are you hosting your event outside of the riding you are located in? If yes, then you can invite your local MPP as well as the MPP representing the area where your event is taking place. If you are unsure which MPP to invite, contact us or refer to the Elections Ontario website.

Please remember to involve us in the early stages of your planning as we can provide you with valuable, time-saving guidance.

Inviting an OTF representative

As part of your event and to support your celebrations, your Communications Advisor will also invite one of our Grant Review Team members to say a few words of congratulations. They are locally based, have knowledge of your community, and are part of the Grant Review Team who review applications in your area.  

Although we do our best to have someone from OTF available, scheduling conflicts may sometimes occur. In these instances, your local MPP will speak on OTF’s behalf.  

Note

While you may have personal connections with some of our Grant Review Team members, we ask that you refrain from sending personal invitations to events. All invitations are to be sent by your Communications Advisor.

Event planning tips

We want your recognition event to be a success and we are here to support you along the way. While your Communications Advisor provides one-on-one support, we encourage you to review our event planning tips before you start planning:  

Set a date and invite key people

  • Contact your Communications Advisor to discuss ideas
  • Set a date, time, and location (or virtual platform)
  • Invite your local MPP
  • Invite key supporters as appropriate (I.e., staff, volunteers, community members)
  • Your Communications Advisor will arrange for an OTF Grant Review Team member to attend, if possible

Stay in touch with us in the weeks leading up to your event, providing updates to both OTF and the MPP’s office.

Prepare your event materials

Holding a recognition event and inviting the media is a great way to create buzz in your community. To help you prepare and finalize your event materials, your Communications Advisor will:

  • review your draft media release, media advisory and agenda to ensure it meets OTF’s recognition protocols. This includes appropriate branding, logo usage, speaking order, and timing.
  • Get a quote from your MPP for the media release.

The essential event materials needed for a recognition event includes:

Media release

A media release is the most effective way of providing information to media outlets about your event. It’s a written document prepared for and sent to media outlets on the day of your event. It can also be emailed afterwards to any outlets who weren’t able to participate.

This is your opportunity to tell your story. Its purpose is to gain the interest of the media outlet and provide them with the angle of how to position your story.

Please note that OTF does not issue media releases for recognition events. Your Communications Advisor will review the media release and obtain a quote from the MPP, and the grantee organization can then disseminate to local media outlets. To further promote the event, you can also post your media release on your website and social channels.

Writing tips:

  • Limit media release to one page
  • Use plain language
  • Avoid jargon or technical terms
  • Write your story as if the reader is learning about your project or organization for the first time
  • The first paragraph should convey who, what, where, when and why
  • The second paragraph is for the MPP quote. Please do not contact the MPP office for a quote, your Communications Advisor will do that for you.
  • The third paragraph further describes your initiative
  • The fourth paragraph for a quote from your representative
  • The fifth/six paragraph is for your organization’s “mission statement” (e.g.: what you do, history in the community, upcoming events, and your website address)
  • The final paragraph is for the OTF tagline, which your Communications Advisor will add

Contacting media outlets :

  1. Prepare a list of media outlets (print, online, radio, television). If there are reporters who have written stories about your organization in the past, invite them back to learn more.
  2. Email your media release the day of your event
  3. After the event, email your media release and a photo to media outlets if your story is not initially covered. There is a chance that the outlet will use it at a later date. The information should include a list of who is in the picture from left to right.

Download a sample media release - option 1.

Download a sample media release - option 2.

Media advisory

A media advisory is the heads up to alert media outlets about your event. The goal is to get them interested in your story. It tells reporters:

  • WHY they should attend the event
  • WHO the key speakers are
  • WHAT they will learn
  • WHEN and WHERE the event will be held

A media advisory should be emailed to outlets one week ahead of your event. If your event is scheduled to run longer than one hour, please include the time of the remarks and ceremony so media are there for the big news! Your Communications Advisor is here to help you craft your media advisory, if needed. OTF does not issue media advisories on behalf of grantees.

Writing tips:

  • A media advisory is one page
  • Use your letterhead or logo to identify your organization
  • Use a headline that describes your event.
    • For example: “MPP to announce funding for local children's charity” or “ribbon cutting to celebrate new accessible pool is sure to create a big splash”.
  • Include a contact name, email and phone number for media to call if they have questions

Remember: Don't give your story away before your event! Media advisories should include just enough detail to create interest. Do not include grant amount or quotes from representatives.

Download a sample media advisory.

Agenda

Set an agenda that makes sense for your event and planned activities. Additionally, the speakers should be allocated 2-3 minutes to speak, however, this may vary based on your type of event and how many speakers you have on the agenda.

Speakers should include people from your organization, your local MPP, an OTF Grant Review team member, and community stakeholders or partners if appropriate.

Speaking order is also an important part of the agenda. Your Communications Advisor will help you finalize these details prior to completing the agenda.

Download a sample agenda.

Promotion 

You will want to take appropriate pictures of the event, which includes the speakers, guests, and activities. During or after the event, you can post your photos on social media, your website, newsletters, or other communication materials. To ensure you get the best pictures, arrange for someone within your organization who enjoys taking pictures to bring a camera or their cellphone.

Because of COVID-19 and social distancing measures, plan for physically distanced photos and share those details with your Communications Advisor.

Additionally:

  • Send us your pictures immediately following the event. We may include a picture from your event in our future publications.
  • Send us links to any news coverage you received and be sure to include these in your final report.

If using social media, be sure to tag OTF:

  • Facebook (Ontario Trillium Foundation)
  • Twitter (@ONTrillium)
  • Instagram (@ONTrillium)
  • LinkedIn (Ontario Trillium Foundation)

Before posting images from your OTF recognition event that include youth under the age of 18, be sure you have a signed consent form from their parent or legal guardian. If you do not, OTF has provided a media release form for you to use:

If OTF asks to use your photo for one of our publications, or to post online, we will need our media release form signed and returned.