Capacity Building for Nonprofits

Best Practice Awards

The best practice award program, sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, honors Rhode Island nonprofit organizations doing outstanding work in the sector.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI logo

What award recipients can expect

Award recipients will share their experience at a special learning conference and reception on December 10, 2019. In addition, awardees will receive an unrestricted grant of $5,000. and public recognition coordinated by the Foundation.

Best practices will be recognized in the following categories:

This award recognizes a nonprofit that has implemented clear and strategic messaging, channels, tools, and tactics to bring attention to critical needs of an underserved population or a significant public policy issue.


Nominations will effectively convey the following criteria about how the organization:

  1. Instituted an effective strategy with an achievable goal to address a clear and compelling need.
  2. Engaged constituents, the general public, and/or public policy decision makers in a meaningful way throughout the advocacy process.
  3. Created clear, compelling, and creative message(s) and materials.
  4. Effectively identified and utilized channels, tools and tactics to engage key audiences.
  5. Achieved meaningful and measurable outcomes.

This award recognizes a nonprofit board or executive team that has played a key role in strengthening an organization through clarifying the strategic direction of the organization, establishing an effective partnership with board and staff to achieve the organizational goals, securing the necessary resources to meet those goals, and establishing and instituting clear policies and procedures for accountability.


Nominations will effectively convey the following criteria about how the organization:

  1. Created a strong track record of strengthening the organization and furthering its mission; established a professionally managed organization with strong and effective systems.
  2. Found innovative and creative ways to adapt to a changing environment and to address problems and challenges faced by organization.
  3. Built community both within and outside the organization.
  4. Exhibits a high level of ethical integrity.
  5. Shows a commitment to the sector by engaging in activities that strengthen the sector.
  6. Achieved meaningful and measurable outcomes.

This award recognizes a collaborative effort by two or more nonprofit organizations that partnered to address a compelling problem that could not have been solved as effectively by the individual organization(s).


Nominations will effectively convey the following criteria about how the organization:

  1. Identified an approach to respond to a pressing need which could be better addressed by working collectively.
  2. Achieved goals through effective communication, information sharing, clearly defined roles for participating organizations, and a clear process for accountability.
  3. Demonstrated effective allocation and use of combined resources in a way that furthered the missions of all involved organizations.
  4. Achieved meaningful and measurable outcomes that were made possible through collaborative efforts.

This award recognizes a nonprofit organization that has utilized new models, solutions, or strategies to adapt to a changing environment and/or to find new ways of solving problems faced by the organization or the populations it serves.


Nominations will effectively convey the following criteria about how the organization:

  1. Instituted an innovative model, solution, or strategy to address an identified need or challenge.
  2. Successfully addressed a compelling need or challenge in ways that would not have been addressed by using more conventional approaches.
  3. Included a plan for continued sustainability of new model, solution or strategy.
  4. Exhibits a high level of ethical integrity.
  5. Achieved meaningful and measurable outcomes.

This award recognizes a nonprofit organization that is implementing effective engagement strategies, from recruitment and training to retention efforts and appreciation, to offer first-rate, meaningful experiences for volunteers and/or donors.


Nominations will effectively convey the following criteria about how the organization:

  1. Instituted an effective strategy for recruiting, supervising, training and/or retaining volunteers.
  2. Provided extraordinary, meaningful experiences for volunteers to engage with the organization.
  3. Created personalized, inspiring donor engagement strategies that led to improved donor relationships and retention.

Get started on your nomination today!

Nomination attachments

You will need to attach the following to your online nomination:

  • Your most recent board-approved financial statement; and
  • Your IRS 501(c) tax determination letter (not a tax-exempt certificate) ONLY if your organization has never applied to the Rhode Island Foundation for funding. If an organization is serving as the fiscal agent for this request, please submit the IRS 501(c) tax determination letter for the fiscal agent.

Selection process

Family Service of Rhode Island “Walking School Bus"
Family Service of Rhode Island received a 2018 Best Practice Award for its "Walking School Bus.”

If your nomination is selected for a Best Practice Award, you will be asked to participate and present your best practice as part of a learning conference and reception scheduled for December 10, 2019. The event will provide an opportunity for nonprofit and community leaders to learn first-hand how the award-winning best practices were identified, planned, and are now successfully implemented by selected nonprofits. In addition, a briefing paper will be developed from your best practice application for distribution to conference attendees and others.

2019 award program timeline

October 14: Applications due
October 28: Award winners notified
December 10: Best practice awards conference and reception, open to the public

* By virtue of submitting this application, you allow the Foundation permission to share and distribute your narrative.