Written by Louisa Graham, CEO of the Australian Scholarships Foundation

At the Australian Scholarships Foundation, we are very excited to announce that entries for our inaugural Not-For-Profit Leadership Awards are now open.

More awards? I hear you opine.

In fact, there are a host of good reasons to hold awards programs. Awards not only acknowledge success and achievement, they also recognise qualities such as ability, struggle, effort and, above all, excellence.

I should know – I have had plenty of experience managing awards and seeing their impact on individuals and organisations. For ten years I managed the Walkley Awards for Journalism, four of those years as their CEO.

Awards are prevalent in many industries, from education to sports, journalism and the entertainment industry. They play a significant role in motivating individuals to excel and strive for greatness, as well as promoting excellence and encouraging healthy competition in a particular field.

Receiving an award is a powerful confidence-boosting experience. It provides validation for an individual’s hard work and effort, and it encourages them to continue pursuing their goals.  They provide a platform for acknowledging the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices that individuals have made to achieve their goals.

This last point is particularly relevant to the not-for-profit and charities sector, which meets fundamental societal needs and fosters social cohesion.  To deliver on their mission, purpose-driven organisations rely ultimately on their ethically motivated and highly dedicated staff, yet they often struggle to provide the professional development opportunities that will attract and retain the right people.

Employing 1.38 million people and accounting for 11% of jobs, this mission-driven sector performs services and functions that are critical to our wellbeing, creativity and good governance.

Awards not only acknowledge success and achievement, they also recognise qualities such as ability, struggle, effort and, above all, excellence.

Louisa Graham, CEO, Australian Scholarships Foundation

The importance of this “human factor” was highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis, when not-for-profits delivered measurable value, mobilising rapidly to lessen the pandemic’s financial and social costs and to support people in need. Staff often endured hours of overtime in highly stressful situations, while taking home pay packets much smaller than those of their corporate counterparts.

The Australian Scholarships Foundation (ASF) is renowned for its high-quality scholarships, which build capacity through leadership training. Now the ASF is taking the next step to ensure that our leaders are rewarded and recognised for their extraordinary contribution. ASF’s Not-For-Profit Leadership Awards will shine a light on organisations, teams and individuals who have demonstrated excellence and courage in their leadership.

The ASF Not-for-Profit Leadership Awards will highlight best practice, showing how leaders and teams are implementing new initiatives in challenging, time-pressed environments. They will create invaluable opportunities for leaders to share case studies and insights into their practices that will educate and inspire the broader sector.

Leadership categories

The Outstanding Leader and Outstanding Emerging Leaders celebrates leaders who have demonstrated impact in their organisation through personal leadership, have encouraged talent growth and led innovation and system change. Ensuring the sector has leaders who champion best practice capability building is imperative to strengthening the sector and these awards seek to recognise these individuals. There will be two awards in each of these categories, for leaders currently working with an organisation with annual revenue of over $3 million, and under $3 million.

Another very important category is Outstanding Leadership in Wellbeing Governance. While the worst days of the pandemic have passed, demand for services across the sector is huge and growing. It is imperative to ensure resources are in place to support mental health. This award is for an organisation that has demonstrated exceptional leadership in governing for strong wellbeing outcomes. The organisation will have a reputation with staff and among sector peers for prioritising the mental health and resilience of their employees and/or volunteers.

Awards play a crucial role in promoting excellence, boosting confidence, promoting healthy competition, and honouring achievements. They serve as a symbol of recognition for individuals who have made a positive ihttps://scholarships.org.au/awards/mpact in their field, inspiring others to strive for greatness and encouraging them to pursue their passions with dedication. Awards are an essential aspect of our lives, and their impact on society should not be underestimated.

Our aim is to build the awards into a widely known and respected program of professional recognition, setting the industry benchmark for not-for-profit leadership standards. We will apply rigour and integrity to the application and judging processes, drawing on my experience managing awards and the knowledge of industry experts representing each category.

The winners of the inaugural Australian Scholarships Foundation Not-for-Profit Leadership Awards will be announced in Sydney on Thursday, 15 June 2023.

Entries are self-nominated, and only $50 each. But you need to be in it to win it, so don’t be modest!

Read full details on the 2023 Not-For-Profit Leadership Awards here. Entries close on Sunday, 16 April 2023.