Anybody can write an MBE nomination form to receive an honour, (or OBE, CBE or even a Knighthood) and the Government helpfully has some advice about how best to write the application on the Honours website.
The Government advice starts with the most important consideration – does the nominee deserve an Honour? The best written nomination for an unworthy candidate won’t work.
Who deserves an honour?
Honours recognise and celebrate outstanding achievements. There are always fewer honours than people who deserve them and because they are rare, they should be reserved for people:
who have changed things especially by solid, practical achievement;
whose work has brought distinction to British life or enhanced the UK’s reputation in their area or activity. If you think your nominee demonstrates one or both of these accomplishments and that their contribution stands out from other people’s, please consider nominating them for an honour.(UK Government Website)
Beyond that, and the other tips on the site, here are our best pieces of insight gained from our experiences working with a wide variety of clients – from school teachers to movie stars.
- Read the application form before you start your research! It seems obvious, but it’s very important to understand what the nominating committee is looking for. Here at Bayleaf, we plan out our MBE nominations and Queen’s Honours nomination before starting any research or reaching out to people.
- Focus on Difference. What makes the nominee different from other people operating in the same field? What differences has the nominee made to their community? By clearly highlighting those differences, you will show the nomination committee why your candidate is worthy.
- Choose Supporters Carefully. When we write an Honours Nomination, we break down the story into distinct pieces and find supporters that can write from personal experience about each part. For example, each business success, each charity effort, each community action – find a supporter who has seen the benefit and the work and can speak personally about it.
- Don’t Use Template Letters. If a chosen supporter says “I’d love to help, but I don’t know what to write. Write something for me and I will sign it” – then find a different supporter. It’s not possible to capture the personal enthusiasm and necessary support when writing on behalf of somebody else. In short – if somebody can’t be bothered to write a short, personal letter, you don’t need them in your corner.
- Don’t Overplay Business Success. In general, an application will not receive much credit for elements which have already benefited the nominee. More bluntly – something which has brought personal wealth or stature probably won’t attract an Honour. Focus on what the nominee has done with that profile and how they have given back.
- Be Specific. Generalisms and platitudes don’t win Honours. Give numbers, amounts, hours spent, people helped.
- Enlist Help. You probably don’t know everything about your nominee (unless you are behind your own nomination). If you are a work colleague, enlist the help of a family member who may know about private charity work. If you are a partner or family member, talk to business colleagues who may know something that you don’t. Be thorough.
- Take your Time. It will probably take 2 years for the Government to evaluate your nomination. Spending a couple of extra weeks to really check the application is time well spent.
- Don’t Forget the Background Checks. Several agencies are involved in the evaluation to check that nobody “unsuitable” is awarded an Honour. Police, Immigration Services and HMRC etc all have the power to comment on or veto a nomination. If you are aware of an issue in the past, it probably will be noted and could stop an otherwise successful nomination.
Of course, we have all these best practices and more embedded in our business and can help you maximise the chances of success with your MBE or other Honours Nomination. From writing the full application to our DIY Service (where you write the application yourself with our behind the scenes support), this is our specialism.