Rethinking Contests

A local foundation recently sponsored a prize awarding contest to high school students competing for best dream. It drew the usual drama of excitement. And many of the submissions were genuinely inspired. Whenever I work with an organization or community who uses contests to spark engagement, I feel a significant obligation to get them considering the community building implications.

In a scenario where 200 people enter a competition where 3 receive generous prizes, we are investing in the creation of 197 new losers. 197 people who have new reasons to question their worth and/or the worth of the group declaring their suckitude.

For some, this is a huge ah-ha. It is completely wasted on others.

Fortunately, there are countless ways to invite engagement in ways that authentically builds a community of worthy contributors.