The inspiration for the awards was a similar awards ceremony hosted by the El Pomar Foundation in Colorado.
“We had a good model to work with, and we were thrilled with the response from the donor community. They thought it was about time that the organizations started getting the recognition as organizations rather than individuals,” said Marnie Taylor, the center’s CEO. “It’s been a highly successful and well-funded event.”
Taylor is in her fourth year as CEO, and she is pleased at how it has become prestigious to win the award. She mentioned several organizations that list the award among their proudest accomplishments. Future Farmers of America, the 2012 grand prize winner, proudly announced its “best nonprofit in Oklahoma” status on the cover of its annual program the following year.
The finalists are chosen by an independent committee that is not affiliated with the Center for Nonprofits.
“Most of the commission are funders of nonprofits and are active in the nonprofit community,” Taylor said. “They are very knowledgeable about how nonprofits work.”
To build on its knowledge, the center holds an annual outreach event to give exposure to some of the lesser-known nonprofit organizations, especially those outside of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The outreach event is a chance for the organizations to introduce themselves to the commission.
The commission meets privately and, in what Taylor calls a “very specific, well-defined process,” chooses the finalists, winners and the overall winner for the year.
The winner of the previous year’s biggest award is the keynote speaker for the next year’s event. Last year, the grand prize was awarded to Tulsa-based The Little Light House, a charity that provides educational and therapeutic services to special needs children.
On the evening of the ONE Awards, the center will give away almost $1 million to the selected charities. The overall winner will receive $10,000. The finalists will be awarded $5,000, and the winner in each category will receive $7,500.
This year’s event will be in Tulsa.
In the fall, the center hosts the Visions Awards ceremony in Oklahoma City.