How to Apply to the
Nonprofit Excellence Awards

Update for 2021: After lots of conversations with the program’s steadfast supporters, we have decided to put the Nonprofit Excellence Awards on hold this year. While we will not be accepting and reviewing applications, we will continue to engage the remarkable talents of our Selection Committee and draw from the lessons learned from past winners as we focus on centering racial equity in our reimagined sector. Stay tuned for more information in advance of our re-launch in 2022!

Whether you’re a large organization with a storied legacy, or a small nonprofit still building your base, the Nonprofit Excellence Awards are designed to help you reach your full potential.

When you apply for the Nonprofit Excellence Awards, we want to hear about your best practices in each of the Key Areas of Nonprofit Excellence. What activities, policies, systems, and structures do you use to best manage your organization? How are you innovative? What are you proud of in terms of your management practices? These are the questions that we’ll ask you to answer:

Advocacy and strategic alliances further the mission. How do you advocate for your mission with management practices, including sharing policy expertise with external audiences, creating spaces for communities to engage in issues and/or building relationships to advance your goals?
Communications are strategic, effective, and build the organization’s brand identity. How does your internal and external communication practices support your mission, and how do they build your brand?
The organization is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. What are your challenges, opportunities, and expectations in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion among your staff and board, and how do you actively engage the entire organization in this process?
Financial management is strong, transparent, and accountable. How do you think strategically about finances to support your mission and to integrate financial management with all organization priorities?
Fundraising and resource development are strategic, donor-centered, and advance the organization’s mission. How have you integrated fund development into your organizational strategies, and what roles do board, staff, volunteers, and constituents play in this work?
Governance structure moves the organization forward. How does your organization’s board help the organization improve performance, collaborate with the chief executive, engage in risk management, establish priorities, and be more transparent?
Human Resources are valued and developed. How do you build team and culture at your organization through your hiring, performance management, retention, and leadership development practices?
Planning and evaluation guide the mission and vision. How do you define, track, assess, and use program results to inform your management practices and strategic planning?
Technology and data use improves efficiency and advances the organization’s mission. How do you manage data and technology resources and integrate technology objectives into short- and long-term strategic and program goals? How does technology increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your programs and operations?
Curiosity and innovation across all areas of management. What are specific examples of management practices that demonstrate how your organization fosters a culture of curiosity and innovation? What can other nonprofits learn from you?

Tip Sheet: The Application Guide to Helping You Show How Awesome Your Nonprofit Management Practices Really Are

To help ensure that you submit the best possible application you can, we have created this tip sheet to provide some guidance. Please note, these are just friendly tips to help guide the way you interpret and respond to the application questions. They are not the secret code or the answer to the Nonprofit Excellence Awards (we keep that in Fort Knox).

Supporting Documents

We’ll ask you to submit supporting documents as part of your application. In the past, these supporting documents included a list of your board of directors, financial statements, your current budget, organizational chart, most recent 990, and 501(c)(3) determination letter. For further context and a list of the supporting documents, you can review the 2020 Nonprofit Excellence Awards- Part One Full Application.

Need More Support?

Review our Frequently Asked Questions about the application and selection process. You can also watch our 2020 Awards Application Clinic.

About the Awards

Nonprofit New York manages this program in collaboration with The New York Community Trust and The Clark Foundation. WNYC is the media sponsor. Additional financial and in-kind support is provided by JPMorgan Chase & Co., RSM US LLP, and Columbia Business School Executive Education Programs in Social Enterprise.


To learn more about eligibility visit this page.

Can't find what you're looking for or have more questions?

Contact our Helpline [email protected] or (212) 502-4191.