Recommending Someone for an Award

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(NOTE: this is currently an outline that is mutating into a draft. Once it's really ready for prime time, it will get linked from the main EK website. In the meantime, if you have comments, please direct them to Justin or Caitlin, who are putting this together.)

Awards and honors in the SCA generally come from the hands of the Royalty or other nobility. But they don't make those decisions by themselves: in a Kingdom of thousands of people like the East, it's simply impossible for the Royalty to know more than a small fraction of the populace. So they depend upon the citizens of the Kingdom to tell them about folks who are deserving of awards.

This page describes how to write a recommendation letter. These letters are the heart of the awards process -- letters written to the King, Queen, Prince and Princess, telling them who is deserving of recognition.



Below, we'll get into the Deep Details, for those who want them. But here are the high points:

  • Anyone can recommend anybody for anything.
  • Write a polite, friendly letter to the Royalty, saying who you are recommending, what award you think they should get, and why. It's often best to write to the Prince and Princess rather than the King and Queen, especially for polling orders: the process can take a while, and the Heirs have more time to deal with it.
  • Be clear and to the point: focus on why you think the award is appropriate. Some details are useful, but don't go on for pages.
  • If the award is for a polling order like the Silver Crescent or Laurel, the recommendation will be passed on to the order for their opinion.
  • The Royalty will make a decision, and if they want to go forward with the award, someone will probably contact you to help set it up.

That's most of it. The rest of this gets into the ins and outs in more detail, but it's really just expanding on the above points. It's pretty easy to do, and the Royalty depend on your words, so don't be afraid to write someone in.

Deciding to Make a Recommendation

As mentioned above, anybody can write a recommendation. This can't be stressed highly enough: you don't have to have the award or order you're recommending them for, or indeed any awards at all. If you know that someone has been doing good work, write them in.

Before you start, though, make sure you know what you're recommending them for -- writing someone in inappropriately can make them look bad, and you don't want that. The East has many honors, and each has its own meaning and purpose. Some are straightforward and given quite widely, such as the Award of Arms; others are very specialized, or very high-ranking. If you're recommending someone for an award and you're not sure exactly what it's for, talk to someone who has it if you can. Or, if that doesn't work, take a look at the SCA awards page, and particularly the East Kingdom awards page.

It's usually a good idea, before you spend the time to write the letter, to check the East Kingdom Order of Precedence, and make sure they don't already have the award. Some folks are just quiet about their ranks and titles, and turn out to have things you didn't realize. Also, if they are in service to a Peer (that is, they are an Apprentice, Squire, Protege or something like that), it is usually considered good form (although not required) to check with that Peer, who might have specific opinions about when the right time is.

Finally, keep in mind that the process takes a fair while: you should usually expect it to take 6-8 weeks for an Award of Arms, and at least several months for a polling order. So if there is a particular event you think the award should happen at, make sure you allow enough time.

How to Write a Good Recommendation Letter

The recommendation letter itself isn't actually complicated: you're simply telling the Crown who should get what, and why. Let's look at those pieces.

Recommendation letters can go to the King and Queen, the Prince and Princess, or both. When in doubt, it's usually a better idea to write to the Prince and Princess -- they have more time to make things happen, especially for polling orders that can take a while.

The letter should include your own name and some contact information for you, at least your email address. This helps if they need to ask questions, or if they need your help setting up the award ceremony.

Make sure you give enough information about the person you are recommending: their SCA and mundane names, the SCA branch they play with and their mundane location. This will help identify them. (If they have a picture online somewhere, a pointer to that can also be helpful.)

Say which award or order you think would be appropriate for them, and describe why: the good work they have done. If you are recommending them for an award with a specific focus, concentrate mostly on that: for example, focus on their work in the Arts if you are recommending them for a Manche, or their archery for a Sagittarius. Peerages (the Orders of the Laurel, Pelican and Chivalry) are a special case, since they are supposed to be role models -- it is usually appropriate to talk a bit about their leadership, their teaching, and generally ways in which they exemplify the ideals of the Society.

This doesn't need to be a detailed resume of everything they've ever done in the SCA -- if they've done a lot, focus on the high points. An Award of Arms recommendation usually runs 1-3 paragraphs; a Peerage might be as long as a page. If you run much over a page, you should probably edit it down, or the members of the Order who are reading it aren't likely to read the whole thing.

If you know particular Royal Progress events that this person will be at, mention that: it can make scheduling the award easier. But remember that awards need a lot of lead time -- it's often impossible to arrange an award with just a couple of weeks' notice.

Polling Orders

The letter is being written to the Crown, but keep in mind that other people may see it. Many of the Eastrealm's awards are "polling orders", which means that the members of the Order provide their opinions to the Crown about candidates. The details vary from reign to reign, but usually the Crown bundles up the recommendations that they have received (sometimes edited and condensed, sometimes exactly as received), and sends them to the Order. The members of the Order discuss these candidates among themselves, and individually send back their opinions to the Crown. The Crown collects all of these opinions, and then makes a decision about what to do.

Page Outline

  • Summary first
    • Clear, brief, unthreatening -- make sure the length of the rest isn't too intimidating
    • Below is the full details
  • Deciding to make a recommendation
    • Anyone can recommend anybody for anything
      • Don't have to be a member of the Order
      • Don't need to have any awards yourself.
      • Usually better *not* to recommend your own spouse for an Order: look better if you can get a third party to do so (NOT CURRENTLY IN DRAFT -- DO WE CARE?)
    • Know what you're recommending them for
      • If you're not a member, good idea to talk to someone who is
      • Link here to info about Awards (Jessa's page, Law)
    • Recommending too early can hurt someone's chances
      • Creates a mindset of "not appropriate"
    • Check the OP, and make sure they don't already have it
      • Pointer to the OP
    • If they have a Peer, usually best to check with them first
    • Lead time
      • Typical awards (such as AoAs): at least 6-8 weeks
      • Polling orders: minimum several months
  • How to write a good recommendation letter
    • Who to write to -- Crowns, esp Prince and Princess
    • What goes into the letter
      • Your own contact info (at least a good email address), for later followup if necessary
      • SCA and mundane names
      • SCA and mundane locations
      • What you're recommending them for
      • Reasons why you think they are appropriate
      • Peerages: PLQs
      • Suggestions for good events where they are likely to be, if you have any
        • Esp good for AoAs
        • See above about lead times!
        • Remember, needs to be an RP, so there is a court to do it in
    • Don't necessarily include a huge resume. Do summarize.
      • Typically a couple of paragraphs for AoA, up to a page for a Peerage
      • More than a page, and their eyes will glaze over
      • Focus particularly on stuff that is relevant to the award in question, if relevant
      • Can include other Good Stuff, but don't overdo it
    • Target audience
      • May be sent to Order, so don't assume only Crown will read it!
    • Don't be defensive
      • If there have been past issues that you think are now resolved, mention that, but don't dwell
    • Don't exaggerate, and make sure your information is correct
      • Often reflects poorly on the candidate if the recommendation turns out to be overblown
  • What happens next
    • Awards: up to Crown
    • Polling orders: sent to them, often unedited
    • If they get it, you may wind up needing to help set it up
    • If it *doesn't* happen, don't harp
      • If polling order, see if member can give broad strokes about where they could use improvement (don't ask for details!)
      • Even worse than recommending too early, can ingrain the notion that this candidate isn't suitable
      • Usually best to encourage candidate in the appropriate direction, and wait a year or so before trying again.
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