The 2021 NFPW Communications Contest is now live! Launched on Oct. 1, 2020, like last year, the contest will use the OpenWater software system to submit entries. It is open to members and non-members alike, although IWPA/NFPW members receive an application fee discount. 

Affiliates, including Illinois have finalized entry fees for those entering the contest. States participating include Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

We encourage you to check out this year’s contest which includes one new category in the specialty story category for obituary writing for a news or feature-like obituary, instead of a typical obituary in the obituary section of a publication.

Entries for the contest must be published or printed between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020. The early entry deadline for the contest is Jan. 27, 2021, at noon in the entrant’s time zone. A one-time fee of $25 will be charged for the first entry submitted by a member after the Jan. 27 deadline. The book deadline is Feb. 3, 2021, at noon and the final deadline for all other entries is Feb. 10 at noon in the entrant’s time zone.

First-place winners will advance to the national round of competition, provided the entrant is a member of NFPW by the March 15, 2021, membership deadline. The goal is to have the national judging complete by early April so winners can be notified and those eligible for a first-timer grant can apply for the grant by the April 23, 2021, application deadline. Entrants will be notified if they placed in the contest, but the actual placement will be announced Saturday, June 12, during the NFPW conference contest awards ceremony in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Questions about the contest may be directed to Teri Ehresman, NFPW contest director at or Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas, IWPA contest director at

Contest-related deadlines for 2021 are:

Oct. 1, 2020: NFPW communications contest opens

Jan. 27, 2021: Early entry deadline

Feb. 3, 2021: Book entry deadline

Feb. 10, 2021: Contest entry final deadline

Feb. 12, 2021: Affiliate judging begins

March 3, 2021: Affiliate judging ends

March 5, 2021: National judging begins

March 15, 2021: Winners must be NFPW members

March 31, 2021: National judging ends

April 23, 2021: First Timer Grant application deadline

June 12, 2021: National winners announced, honored