10 Top Tips for Success & the Judging Process

"Edward Filene Credit Union Awards for Performance Excellence" 
 "Joe Biden Awards for the Development Educators of the Year" - from around the world

The ten top tips on how to write a persuasive, WINNING entry - with answers to FAQs and details of the Judging Process below

  1.  “They” can’t see you
    Remember the independent Judges cannot see your credit union or you, but they know about credit unions.  So an entry must be as comprehensive as possible, examining what has been/is being done, why it is done and the successful outcomes.
  2. Choose your category/categories wisely
    There maybe one or more categories the credit union or an individual can enter, but make sure that any entry and the narrative, supporting documents, etc fit the correct category and each entry has a different narrative.
  3. Tell a great story
    In every entry, show as much as possible the unique personality of the credit union or individual, i.e. there is always story to be told, please tell it – take the Judges on a journey allowing them to truly understand where the credit union or entry has come from and what has been achieved.
  4. Give yourself enough time to complete your entry
    An entry for category by a credit union should be a team effort.  This is because each category covers a wide subject area.  An entry by or on behalf of an individual should be viewed in confidence by an unbiased reader who knows the person and can put the question “have you left anything out?”
  5. Don’t be afraid to point out where “we went wrong” and what was done to put it right
    Many are afraid to admit openly what went wrong, thinking this might decrease their chance of winning - but remember it’s how the credit union or individual dealt with problems and set-backs that’s important and could make the entry stand out from the rest.  
  6. Focus the message:
    Keep your sentences punchy:
    Numbers or bullet points for easy reading/scoring;
    Only include relevant information;
    The Judges will have to read/score many entries.
  7. Stick to the facts
    No fluffy writing filled with meaningless statements, i.e. “the credit union went from zero to bingo”.  Explain why things had to be done, what was done and the results.
  8. Stick to a word count?  There isn’t one!
    Yes, that’s right! Experience has shown the Judges don’t want to have to request additional information to be provided after the receipt of an entry. So follow 6. and 7. above.
  9. Get your entry proof-read
    Authors can be too close to the pen.  Sometimes they don’t see mistakes, however small.  Someone else reading the entry will make sure it flows well, no grammar, spelling, typographical errors and whether anything in the entry is unclear or superfluous.
  10. Supporting information
    Attach anything/everything relevant to support the entry, photographs, media releases by or about the credit union or person, proven statistics, accounts, testimonials received etc.

Lastly the Awards Office/the Trustees are not Judges and have nothing to do with the judging process.  They can offer advice on how to choose a category etc. and can be contacted, preferably by phone, at any time (up to 9:00 p.m.) seven days a week on +44(0)208 241 2736 or email  info@iculdef.org.  Because of time zones etc, it's expected that enquiries from overseas will be via email or appointment by Skype.


It has been found by the Awards Office that many credit unions and individuals require all sorts of further information about the Filene and Biden Awards, their various categories and there has been a need to talk to some to refine their entries, All enquiries are welcome but here are a few guidance notes and answers to FAQs

  • Entries are only accepted from authorised and regulated credit unions or active credit union owner-members.
  • ​Entries must be original, but previous entrants and winners can submit new original entries. 
  • No "Filene" entries should be based on any type of grant funding - although working in conjunction with other bodies in both the public and private sectors or taking a loan at commercial rates to deliver a project would be acceptable.  This condition does not apply to "Biden" entrants.
  • All entries must be submitted online using the template entry form provided.
  • The narrative of every entry should contain enough evidence (facts!) – explaining what was done – and why/what the person or credit union is working to achieve and deliver - see 10 Top Tips above
  • Where possible, every entry should provide proof of success and where relevant - proven statistics, graphs, testimonials including from the media and other organisations, which can be uploaded as attachments to the Entry Form.
  • To aid the Judging Panel, reference should be made in the texts to the title of any accompanying documents and visual materials being submitted.
  • If any entry includes sensitive material or data to support it, please state this in the entry.  This material will only be viewed by the Awards Office and the Judging Panel and will not be referred to publically in anyway without the prior consent of the credit union.
  • To allow sufficient time for entries to be finalised and submitted before the closure date of 30th June 2019, the Helpline will close two weeks before on 17th June 2019.


When the Awards programme was set up in 2011, an attempt was made to make the judging process as impartial as possible, with the judges working in isolation of each other.  

Check out here the biographies of the esteemed Edward Filene Credit Union Judging Panel - Adrian Oldman, Becky Hoyle, Nigel Fawcett, Ros Lucas and Steve Johnson and those for the Joe Biden Award for Development Educator of the Year - Frank Diekman and Nancy Johns; entries from North America for the Biden Awards will be judged by Brian Bennett, Paul Dawson and Mark Worthington from Australia.

The judgement of every entry is based upon two things:-

  1. The evidence produced on the objectives to be achieved – “the planning bit”
  2. Measurement of the quality and identifiable successes or positive effect of the endeavour – “the doing bit”.

Both the evidence produced and the successes shown are then scored 1-10 with “11” being given as the “tie break mark”, e.g.:-

  1. No narrative evidence and illustration of success provided.
  2. Little narrative evidence and no illustrative success
  3. Insufficient narrative evidence and no illustrative success.
  4. Some narrative evidence but it is incomplete and no illustrative success.
  5. More narrative evidence but lacking cohesion and comprehension to the reader and little illustrative success.
  6. Sufficient narrative evidence but poorly set out and insufficient illustrative success.
  7. Sufficient narrative evidence given, well set out and some illustration of success.
  8. Sufficient narrative evidence given, well set out and many illustrations of success.
  9. Great narrative evidence given and great illustration of success.
  10. Exemplary narrative evidence given and outstanding illustration of success.
  11. The tie break mark

However, despite the precise nature of this scoring, in the past few years there have been two way ties in more than one category!

Entry Period

Sadly because of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Awards process is postponed for the time being.  As soon as it's feasible to restart, all credit unions and credit unionists will be advised and given three months' notice of the closure date. Details of new arrangements for the announcement of Award winners and presentations of trophies will be also be advised at that time.