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Nonprofit News Awards Entry Instructions

On this page, you’ll find everything you need to know about entering the 2024 Nonprofit News Awards — from entry fees to judging criteria.

The 2024 Nonprofit News Awards will be open for entries from Monday, May 13, through 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, June 3. The 2024 awards recognize work published, broadcast or produced between June 1, 2023 and May 31, 2024.

Some categories are separated into divisions — micro, small, medium, large. When entering those categories, choose the division that corresponds with your organization’s most recent fiscal year  expenses.

Members should enter only the category for their division. If you have questions about your division, please contact membership@inn.org.

New in 2024! The same project may be submitted in up to three categories. There is no overall limit on how many categories a member may enter, but the same work may only be entered in up to three categories.

Entry fees are per entry, based on division unless otherwise noted. Entry fees will not be refunded.

Journalism categories

Each INN member organization may submit up to three entries per Journalism Category. One winner will be selected per division in each of the following categories. Please note the judging criteria listed and their relative importance (e.g. 7 out of 20 points) to the judges’ evaluation when crafting your entry.

Best Investigative Journalism Award ($500 prize to each division winner)

Honors a single story or series that uncovered significant and impactful news based on the reporters’ own investigation and which advances and serves the public interest. Judges will consider:

CriteriaMaximum Points
Impact of the work through subsequent coverage or resulting policy changes7
Quality of writing6
Originality of approach4
Difficulty of reporting3
TOTAL20

Insight Award for Explanatory Journalism ($500 prize to each division winner)

Honors a single story or a series of explanatory reporting that provides insight and understanding of a significant and complex subject. Entries may include stories/images/multimedia that are part of a single series, or up to three stories and accompanying images/multimedia from coverage of a single beat.  Judges will consider:

CriteriaMaximum Points
Clarity of explanation7
Potential for greater understanding of the subject to advance the public good6
Innovative approach5
Quality of writing2
TOTAL20

Breaking Barriers Award ($500 prize to each division winner)

Honors reporting that brought new understanding to an issue or topic affecting people or communities that are historically underrepresented, disadvantaged or marginalized, resulting in impactful change. Entries may include single stories, stories/images/multimedia that are part of a series, or up to three stories and accompanying images/multimedia from coverage of a single beat. Judges will consider:

CriteriaMaximum Points
Impact of the work7
Does the impacted community qualify as historically underrepresented, disadvantaged or marginalized?6
Originality of approach5
Quality of writing2
TOTAL20

Community Champion Award ($500 prize to each division winner)

Honors an INN member organization that made a significant contribution to the well-being of its community through a journalism-centered project or service. Judges will consider:

CriteriaMaximum Points
Impact of the work7
Size and scope of the community need being addressed6
Originality of approach5
Replicability of project or service to other INN member organizations2
TOTAL20

INNovator Award (previously the Game-Changer Award) ($500 prize to each division winner)

For an organization that produced an innovative idea or practice that had a positive financial impact on the newsroom and will help the newsroom serve its community or audience into the future. Entries should include an explanation of the magnitude of impact. Judges will consider:

CriteriaMaximum Points
Innovative approach7
Impact of work on newsroom sustainability6
Whether the practice will be continued into the future5
Magnitude of impact (audience growth, financial, or otherwise)2
TOTAL20

Insight Award for Visual Journalism ($500 prize to each division winner)

Honors a single story or a series of stories that uses photography and/or other visual media to more accurately portray a community that has traditionally been underrepresented or misrepresented in news media. Judges will consider:

CriteriaMaximum Points
Quality of the visuals7
Impact the visuals had on raising the profile and improving understanding of the portrayed community7
Advancement of the overall storytelling via the visuals6
TOTAL20

Overall categories

Each INN member organization may submit one entry to each of the Overall Categories. One winner will be named per category below. The entry fee for these categories is $15 unless otherwise noted.

Startup of the Year ($2,000 prize)

Honors a young organization (operating for less than three years) for establishing strong support of their journalism throughout the community and the revenue growth to sustain it. A successful entry includes a letter describing specific successes in regards to revenue, audience and any additional accomplishments that it wishes to highlight in service of its mission. Judges will consider:

CriteriaMaximum Points
Evidence of strong community support10
Whether revenue growth since launch and future plans for growth seem sustainable6
Evidence of audience engagement4
TOTAL20

Journalism Collaboration of the Year ($2,000 prize)

Honors a news-oriented project or ongoing partnership that exemplifies the culture of sharing and cooperation in nonprofit news and expands the impact of its journalism. Nominations may include a member’s partnership with other newsrooms (regardless of INN membership) or other organizations, or its work to share data, specialized reporting or other shared reporting resources with other members. 

Please note that, to avoid duplicate entries, collaborating organizations should coordinate regarding which organization will submit the entry.

Judges will consider:

CriteriaMaximum Points
How clearly the collaborative structure of the reporting significantly contributed to achievements in the quality of the reporting, impact and/or reach10
The significance of the reporting for the public interest6
The clarity of the information presented2
Quality of writing2
TOTAL20

Nonprofit Newcomer of the Year ($1,000 prize)

Honors an individual who is new to the field of nonprofit news (less than two years) and is contributing to the success of their organization through innovation. Nominees can serve in any role (fundraising, operations, communications, journalism, etc.) at an organization of any age. Nominations should be submitted with comments or an attached document in support of the nomination from the member’s executive director, publisher or similar executive leader. If possible, also include a headshot of the nominee.

Please note: This award is not intended for individuals serving in executive leadership roles. Nominations for executives should be made in the “Emerging Leader of the Year” category.

Judges will consider:

CriteriaMaximum Points
Impact the individual has had on their organization7
Impact the individual has had on the field of nonprofit news7
Individual’s potential to advance their leadership in the field in the future (if relevant)6
TOTAL20

Emerging Leader of the Year ($1,500 prize)

Honors an individual with less than five years in executive leadership who is an emerging luminary in the field. Nominations should be submitted with comments or an attached document in support of the nomination from the member’s executive director, publisher or similar executive leader. If possible, also include a headshot of the nominee.

Please note: Nominees are not required to have participated in INN’s Emerging Leaders Council.

Judges will consider:

CriteriaMaximum Points
Sustainability of organizational model6
Demonstration of strong commitment to equity and inclusion6
Demonstration of positive and innovative leadership4
Demonstration of deep commitment to serving their community4
TOTAL20

INN Service to Nonprofit News Award ($5,000 prize) 

Please note: The deadline to submit a nomination for this category closed on March 25, 2024.

Honors an individual who has made significant, innovative and lasting contributions to the field of independent, nonprofit news, reflecting the spirit of INN’s creation. Nominations should include an attached document describing the nominee and their contributions to the field. INN members may nominate any person of their choosing; affiliation with the nominating member organization is not required. The Service to Nonprofit News Award is presented at the discretion of the Institute for Nonprofit News. No entry fee.

Rules

Eligibility

The contest is open to all INN members in good standing. Work created by INN members is eligible. Newsrooms must be members of INN in good standing on the date of submitting their entries.

Please note regarding freelance entries: Work created by freelancers for an INN member is eligible for submission and may be submitted by the freelancer only if the INN member does not plan to submit it themselves and gives permission (please coordinate). If an entry is submitted by a freelancer, the freelancer is responsible for the entry fee, but any award money will be paid to the publishing INN member.

Important dates:

Divisions and entry fees

Judging

Entry Instructions

Submissions to the INNYs will be entered through nonprofitnewsawards.awardsplatform.com

Below are directions for preparing and submitting entries. If you have questions, please contact membership@inn.org.

Logging In

1. Go to nonprofitnewsawards.awardsplatform.com.

2. Please log in using an existing Award Force account or create a new account in the “Log in or register” section.

3. If you are creating a new account, you will receive an account confirmation email (if you don’t receive this email, please check your spam folder, and if it’s not there, please contact membership@inn.org). Please confirm your account via the confirmation email link, then answer the additional questions to complete your profile.

Submitting Entries

Entry Guidance:

How to enter:

1. Click the orange “Start Entry” button

2. From the Category drop down:

3. Create a name for your entry, then click the orange “Save + next” button

4. Add entry content via the Attachments tab (requested content will vary by category)

IMPORTANT: Please be sure that items are not behind a paywall or a password-protected area. If they are, you must provide username/password info in the Comments section of your attachment.

TIPS: To add web/audio/video content, select the blue “Add link or video” button. To host your content online, either upload it to a free streaming content website (e.g.YouTube) or talk to your IT person about adding it to your website. Make sure the content will be accessible online throughout the duration of the contest and awards process.

Here are some examples of free streaming content websites where you can upload audio and video content:

Judges may disqualify your entry if work samples are inaccessible.

5. Click the orange “Save + next” button

6. Enter the information of any contributors to your entry in the Contributors tab (if this is a nomination, the name of the nominee will go here). Please help us honor all that contributed to this work by including a phonetic pronunciation of their name, as well as their email address, so they can be informed of any awards they may receive.

7. When your entry feels complete, click the blue “Submit entry” button. 

Please note that entries may be edited until the entry deadline passes, even if they have been submitted and paid for.

Paying Entry Fees

1. After an entry is submitted, it will appear in your cart.

2. After all desired entries have been submitted, please click the Cart button at the top of the page. 

3. Double check that all desired entries appear in your cart. If any desired entries do not appear in the cart, please navigate back to your My Entries page, open each missing entry, and click the blue “Submit entry” button at the bottom of the entry.

4. From the cart, complete your payment information to pay for your entries via credit card. Entries that are not paid for by the entry deadline may not be included in the judging process.

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