Winner’s Review

Click here to watch interviews with this year’s winners

Best Development of an Existing Association Event – under 300 delegates

Winner: Incorporated Society of Musicians – Make Music Work

The judges felt that the society showed a clear intent to make the event as relevant as possible. Particularly good use of a steering group to focus on the development of the conference. Good analysis of what took place. Clear strategic direction and excellent outcomes.


The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK’s professional body for musicians. Since 2009, the ISM has repositioned itself to reach a wider range of music professionals, and to deliver value-add high-quality services beyond a core insurance offer. Membership has grown 40% in 5 years to reach 7,000 in 2015.

It traditionally holds a members’ conference annually – a significant investment of money and staff time, but one that has yielded increasingly poor attendance and member engagement.

The 2014 member survey also showed that of ISM professional development activities, conference had the highest awareness but least attendees – just 55 members in 2014 (plus 34 delegates from a sister association). At the same time, ISM’s growing professional development activity of one-day seminars and webinars were increasingly popular and successful.

A new conference steering group looked in detail at attendance, cost, resource and overall benefit, and at other conference models.

The aim of a radically revised one-day conference for 2015, Make Music Work, was to create a high-profile, large-scale event open to non-members, which further extended awareness of the ISM and aligned with its strategy to become the professional body of choice for freelance performers and composers, as well as educators.

Best Development of an Existing Association Event – over 300 attendees

Winner: Association for Project Management (APM) – APM Project Management Conference 2015 – Myth Busting

The judges said this was an excellent result from a very small team. The analysis and strategic thinking were exceptional and the income generation to be commended. Best in class.


Project management in real life is rarely the same as project management in the text books. This has created great myths in our profession that cloud both our perception and decision making.

APM Project Management Conference 2015 sponsored by 20|20 Business Insight looked to dispel these myths by uncovering the evidence that will increase the likelihood of project delivery success.

“Myth Busting – dispelling the myths to improve project delivery success” brought together speakers from within the profession and thought leaders from outside to remove the barriers to our thinking by testing existing practices and uncovering new ways to manage projects. This ensured project professionals stay up to date with the latest techniques for successful project delivery.

APM used a mix of communication channels before, during and after the event including email, social media, video, blogs and magazine articles. This ensured a “long-tail” effect of engagement, not just with the delegates, but the project management profession as a whole long after the day of the event itself.

The APM Conference was a huge success from the delegate point of view with 94.9% looking to attend again in 2016.

Best Association Event Managed by an Agency

Winner: International Spinal Cord Society – The 4th ISCoS- Asia 2015 Joint Scientific Meeting – Zibrant

The judges said “this conference was delivered in a short timescale with some significant challenges and showed some good results.  It is clear that there is a real in-depth understanding of the challenges at hand as well as the aim of the Association”.


We feel this meeting was unique and worthy of consideration of winning because of:

  • Short delivery time
  • Working with a new client
  • The governance and legal challenges at the outset
  • Managing an event that must meet multiple stake holder needs
  • Creating an event that was scientifically excellent and met to objectives of the society and its members
  • In parallel to logistics delivery – carrying a strategic review of how the annual meeting is managed and how it fits with the needs of the Society
  • Implementation of the strategic review recommendations at the same time as ensureing excellence in delivery
  • Positive outcomes from the conference in terms of KPI measurements

Best Training Initiative

Winner: The Building Societies Association (BSA) – Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders

The judges said “An excellent entry with strong results showing careful investigation of the need for a post-graduate level qualification in leadership for graduate and non-graduate potential leaders of Building Societies”.


The need to invest in and develop today’s leaders and those of tomorrow are universal concerns for the Chief Executives and Boards of the members of the Building Societies Association (BSA). Our members are all 44 building societies and 2 large credit unions. All are mutual organisations – owned by their customers.

Their ownership means that members have a specific legal structure and a different culture and ethos to a PLC. Managing and leading a mutual requires extra knowledge and skills on top of all the standard disciplines needed to operate a highly regulated financial services business.

Consultation with members identified a need for a post-graduate level recognised qualification for mutual leaders. No such qualification existed. Under its forward-agenda – actions to develop, support and protect the mutual sector – the BSA took up the challenge as catalyst, facilitator and development partner.

We worked with an advisory group drawn from a cross section of our members and our academic partner, Loughborough University School of Business and Economics, to deliver for our members. The BSA MSc in Leadership & Management for mutuals was launched in October 2015 with a full first cohort of 26 diverse students from 17 building societies.

Best Association Newsletter

Winner: Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) – AMRC Member Briefing

The judges commented that “the AMRC newsletter is a good clean modern design and they are using evaluation to improve the publication. The statistics for the newsletter are very good in terms of open rates and 5 star submissions”.


“An excellent newsletter that I always read, no matter how busy I am. An easy way to keep up to date with news and events. Wouldn’t have time to find all this out for myself!” The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) is the national membership organisation of leading medical and health research charities. We have 139 member charities. AMRC is digital first by necessity. We are London-based with a national membership and presence; in order to have reach and impact we have to use digital media.We produce a fortnightly e-newsletter using email marketing software, which has a circulation close to 1,000. It’s aim is to generate visibility for AMRC with its members and to promote the medical research charity sector with partners in the wider community.

Best Association Website

Winner: Community Pharmacy Scotland –

The judges remarked that “this was a well written entry which clearly communicated that CPS had created an effective, tangible change in perception of the organisation through their work.  Attractive and friendly website in both computer and mobile format. Intuitive navigation.”


Our website is an important resource for community pharmacies in Scotland. Our members work in a busy pharmacy so they need answers to their questions straight away and our website is one of the first places they turn to for information. After carrying out a communications survey in February 2015 we reviewed the feedback and realised that it wasn’t where we wanted to be. Our members told us that our website in particular was looking dated, it was written in an authoritative tone which our users didn’t like and the biggest issue was that it wasn’t fully mobile compatible. This meant that our members couldn’t always access the information they needed. The feedback resulted in a full refresh of our brand which included some major changes to our website such as making it fully mobile compatible, improving the search function and creating user-friendly Apps for our most popular pages. Our site has been live for a month now and we’ve seen an increase in our visitor stats and have received great feedback from both members and other stakeholders. Our website is now one that we can be very proud of and we are confident meets the needs of our members.

Best Membership Engagement

Winner: Royal Pharmaceutical Society – Membership journey: students to qualified pharmacist

The judges commented that “this entry was outstandingly good in every respect.  The RPS faced a huge threat when it was reconstituted. This is an object lesson to any Association facing a challenge to its very existence, and will be an inspiration to others.”


The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is the professional membership body for pharmacists and pharmacy in Great Britain. In 2010, the organisation was separated into two, with the regulation function moved into a new organisation and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society delivering professional membership. As part of the separation of the roles into two organisations, membership of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society became optional, and membership numbers declined from 100% of the market in 2010 to 55% of the market in 2012.

The strategy was to increase membership through engaging with members through the membership pipeline from students, to pre-registration trainees and onto practising pharmacists. The aim was that by increasing engagement efforts at the start of the journey then members will upgrade their membership and develop loyalty throughout their career. The activities of the teams shifted away from focusing on one way communications to developing two way communications and engaging with members, both face to face and online.

The results show an increase in:

• Pre-registration trainee membership to 94% of the cohort
• Paid membership recruitment by 26% year on year
• Total paid membership increased by 5.8% year on year

Best Advancement of a Cause

Winner: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) – Youth employment

The judges said that “this was a well thought through campaign, which has good results and measured impact.  For a professional body to take on such a cause as youth employment is admirable” .


The Learning to Work programme is led by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, to promote the role of employers in reducing youth unemployment. The CIPD’s purpose is to champion better work and working lives, which starts with young people being able to access the labour market. To achieve meaningful, long-term change we knew we had to tackle the problem holistically, it was not just about equipping young people with the right skills, we also needed employers to create more and diverse opportunities for young people to access the labour market and ensure that recruitment practices aren’t a barrier to labour market entry. By researching the issue and promoting best practice case studies and guidance, we encourage HR professionals to offer a wide range of access routes into their organisations and ensure their recruitment and management practices are youth-friendly. We also promote direct contact with young people and encourage our members to help prepare them for work, via two volunteering programmes, Steps Ahead Mentoring and Inspiring the Future, resulting in more than 5,000 of our members signing up to help young people.

Best Use of Social Media

Winner: The Institution of Engineering and Technology – IET On Campus

The judges commented that this entry had “a great social media campaign which was fun and engaging for the audience concerned. Great engagement with young members with good global metrics, indicating the international breadth of the community”.


Keen to move away from the perception that institutions are old fashioned, the IET decided to run a zany ‘space hopper’ competition where engineering students would share on Facebook photos or videos of themselves bouncing around their campuses. To add a further twist, each space hopper video or picture entry had to be around the theme of creating ‘more energy’ on campus. The winning entry would be the one that gained the most likes on Facebook within a set period of time.

The competition was a great example of how to engage with younger members of a professional body via social media. There was a lot of fun content sent in from students – some of the video entries were particularly trippy (the lesson to be learned here is never underestimate the raw creativity of young engineers)!

The competition was part of the IET’s wider ‘IET On Campus’ initiative, which has been designed to help students develop their skills through extracurricular activities on campus. The campaign helped to increase brand awareness of the IET, which ultimately helped with their retention of student members after graduation (which was a key KPI for the institution).

Best PR Campaign

Winner: Institute of the Motor Industry – IMI Professional Register campaign

The judges said this was a really well executed campaign with a clear objective, target market and effective use of a PR budget to deliver a tangible goal.


The IMI Professional Register was founded to set and promote the automotive sector’s professional standards. Our database website monitors and lists professional members’ experience, CPD and ethical working practices. This is critical, as the British Government doesn’t regulate automotive service providers; there is no mandatory ‘Licence to Practise’.

Independent research discovered 89% of motorists prefer dealing with accredited professionals. The Register provides an authoritative, comprehensive resource – but not enough consumers were aware. This campaign focused on raising awareness; in doing so, it could bring more value to members and raise our profile, critical for pushing ahead with our political registration campaign.

Our integrated, UK-wide campaign was underpinned by research: conclusions informed tactics, channels and content. It ran from December 2014 to March 2015, including a new optimised website with enhanced search; tip-based video content led by ambassador Suzi Perry, BBC F1 Presenter; press activity; radio interview day, and more. In four months, we boosted awareness: with a 214.9% increase in overall visitors compared to the same time period, last year. By reaching radio audiences of 4.5 million and press rising to 80 million, the campaign put IMI on the map – supporting our licensing campaign with party leaders during the election.

Best Association Awards Event

Winner: British Institute of Facilities Management – BIFM Facilities Management Awards

The judges said this was a strong event with great attendance and with refreshed categories closely linked to the associations mission. A wide range of judges with a solid judging process and a process improvement team to drive change.


BIFM, the professional body for facilities management revitalised its Awards programme in 2015 at every level, from the strategic alignment to the Institute’s new mission and strategic intent through to the marketing programme, judging process and the onsite event production. The result was a resounding success, the categories and well thought out criteria connected with industry producing exemplary submissions to demonstrate the strategic value of FM, entrants, guests and sponsors all felt uplifted and huge pride for the work they do and the difference they make.

Best Association Supplier

Winner: Conference Partners Ltd.

The judges commented that “Conference Partners has an excellent track record of working closely with associations, delivering to suit their needs and exceeding expectations. They have been innovative in their approach to the aims of associations and delivered consistently”.


Conference Partners is an award-winning and internationally accredited Professional Conference Organiser, headquartered in Dublin, with offices in Scotland and Manchester, and operating globally. With a proven track record demonstrated over 17 years in business, their exceptional portfolio of over 950 national and international conferences for world renowned associations have justifiably positioned them as an international leader.

With a highly skilled, multilingual team of 52, they offer clients an in-house graphic design team, an in-house sponsorship team and a hands-on management team with over 60 collective years’ experience. Their approach is in their name, they work in partnership with their clients and have established strong relationships with regional Convention Bureaux, venues, hotels and suppliers to achieve modern, memorable and professional events that provide a return on investment to all stakeholders. By immersing themselves in the association, brand, industry and culture of their clients, they identify the strategy best suited to achieving their client’s objectives and ultimately enabling delegates to create international networks within which to share their knowledge and expertise.

Conference Partners are accredited by the International Association of Professional Conference Organisers and recently won the Best Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) 2015 and the C&IT award for Best International Conference 2015.

Overall Best UK Association Award

Winner: The Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP)

The judges commented that “the association combined great growth and internal performance with significant external impact. A small organisation with programmes that address reputation, engagement, care of the individual and government influence. Really Impressive”.

The Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals represents the growing number of individuals in the UK who process and implement payroll and pensions to employees across the UK and now has over 11,500 members.

In addition, the CIPP is the market leader in terms of the qualifications it offers and is supporting 944 students achieving their qualifications goals at this moment in time (only ones to be university accredited). Innovation (through apps such as the understanding your payslip one released three months ago) and knowledge (the CIPP has a policy and research team that works closely with HMRC to help provide general industry feedback and influence the best possible outcomes for workers in terms of administrative burdens).

Their organisation has been key in recent years following some of the biggest changes to UK businesses for decades with the implementation of Real Time Information and automatic enrolment. Key initiatives have helped to develop policy and provide further support for businesses in getting these legislative changes through.

Despite being one of the smaller institutes in the UK with only 62 full-time employees, the CIPP has worked hard to develop strong relationships with partners to deliver an outstanding service to its members.

Overall Best International Association

Winner: The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO)

The judges said the “ICCO has worked hard to position itself at the centre of the industry and has a fantastic set of services and benefits. They launched a really exciting set of recent activities. Congratulations”.


The International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO) is the voice of public relations consultancies around the world. The ICCO membership comprises 33 national trade associations in 32 countries across the globe: from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australasia. Collectively, these associations represent over 2,500 PR firms.

ICCO provides a forum for senior management of the world’s best PR consultancies to meet and address issues of mutual interest and concern.

Members work together to raise standards of quality, address ethical issues, harmonise professional PR consultancy practice, and share knowledge. Through the online directory, ICCO also acts as a matchmaker between consultancies in different countries. Members have an opportunity to meet in person at meetings of the Board, annual Summits, Awards and at number of ICCO partner events across the globe.

We believe that ICCO is suitable for winning this award because of the huge number of achievements we have had over the year, particularly in reaching our own goals.

Best Networking Event

Winner: British Hospitality Association – Hospitality and Tourism Lobby Day

The judges commented “excellent result in getting this into the Parliamentary diary as an annual event. Breaking new ground and aligning completely with the core objective. Showed a rounded approach to networking”.


The British Hospitality Association (BHA), incorporating the Restaurant Association, represents over 40,000 member establishments. In September 2015 the association organised the first ever Hospitality and Tourism Day at Westminster. It saw more than 120 BHA members and MPs get together for a single lobby day in Parliament.

As an industry body the BHA aims to make sure the UK Government properly recognises hospitality and tourism as an economic priority and opportunity, as other countries already do – including across Europe, China and the United States.
A crucial part of this strategy is to make sure MPs are fully aware of the value of tourism to the economy and to lend support to our three to policy priorities: a reduction of VAT on tourism, simplification of the process for issuing tourist visas, and fairer online travel agency contracts.

The Hospitality and Tourism Day helped us put the industry’s case to MPs and policy makers face-to-face. It served as a platform for the development of new relationships between MPs and the tourism industry.

The BHA has now enrolled the support of 137 MPs from all parties to its campaign to reduce VAT on tourism. The Westminster day helped us reinforce and grow support for this initiative.

Association Leadership Award

Winner: Charity Finance Group – Caron Bradshaw

The judges commented that “This entry demonstrated a concerted effort over the last couple of years to improve the position of a very important group doing an equally important job in the Charity sector. An impressive entry with strong supporting material”.


Like many other charity membership organisations, by 2013, Charity Finance Group had begun to see declines in membership income and engagement. In the current environment, charities are squeezed financially and in time, and CFG wanted to take proactive action to reverse this position, fulfil potential and maximise impact of our work and the sector.

In late 2013 the organisation embarked on a significant change programme which involved moving offices, restructuring the team (including a new senior management team) and changing the services and culture.

The new strategy and structure were launched in spring 2014. Broadly, the aims of the changes were to increase reach, range, influence and income, and build a stronger and more resilient and effective organisation to create a platform for this growth and to increase positive outcomes for members and the charity sector.

A significant change was achieved in under 2 years, exceeding many of the financial targets and non-financial outcomes that had been set, demonstrating the effectiveness of the leadership and the approach. The positive results are clear, but feedback from members has also been a testament to the impact of the changes already, despite the change programme and strategy implementation still being in progress.