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Awards to Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC
Nonprofit CEOs to Honor Outstanding Leadership

Excellence in Chief Executive Leadership (EXCEL) Award

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Center for Nonprofit Advancement

Deadline Date:

08/05/22 Midnight - Emailed or Postmarked


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Awards to Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC chief executives of nonprofit organizations in eligible areas to honor excellence in leadership. Awards are intended to support professional development activities that benefit the recipients and their nonprofit staff. The award recognizes achievement in the areas of innovation, motivation, community building, ethical integrity, and strategic leadership. The geographic area is defined as the District of Columbia, Suburban Maryland (Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties), and Virginia.

The professional development account can be spent on future educational or professional development activities related to the role and responsibilities of leading a nonprofit organization. 

Covered expenses include:

  • Classes (i.e., adult education, professional development, or higher education)
  • Executive coaching
  • Leadership training programs
  • Conferences
  • Books and magazines
  • Professional memberships
  • Services to benefit professional development as leaders of a nonprofit organization.

Sample expenses could include opportunities like enrollment in a certificate program at a local university, hiring an executive coach to gain a new skill or a strategic outlook to career expansion, membership in a professional association or participation in Leadership Greater Washington or other similar program. Creative ideas that connect to the individual’s professional development are welcomed.

Any winner whose organization is not a member of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement at the time of the Award presentation will be granted Center membership. Membership dues will be deducted from the recipient’s grant award.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 173136

Number of Grants:

One EXCEL winner, and up to two honorable mention recipients.

Estimated Size of Grant:

One nominee is selected as the EXCEL winner and is given access to a $10,000 professional development account. The winner’s organization receives a $2,000 cash award to support professional development programs for its staff.

Up to two nominees may be selected as honorable mention recipients. Each of their organizations receives a $3,000 award to support professional development programs for the candidate and/or staff.

Term of Contract:

The recipient will have full access to all resources available to Center members for a 12-month period.

The Professional Development account will be available for a 24-month period.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligibility Guidelines:
- To be qualified for consideration, nominees: Must hold a salaried, full-time (minimum 35 hours per week) chief executive position at a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in the Washington metropolitan area. The geographic area is defined as the District of Columbia, Suburban Maryland (Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties) and Virginia.
- Must be an executive director, CEO, president or other chief salaried employee of a Washington-area nonprofit organization with an annual budget under $10 million.
- Must have served as the chief executive at his/her current organization for a minimum of three years as of May 31, 2022. All examples and explanations used in the application must have occurred during the applicant’s tenure at the current organization.

Any individual meeting these requirements may be nominated. There is no fee to participate. Past EXCEL Award winners are ineligible for future EXCEL Award consideration.

Pre-Application Information:

2022 EXCEL Award Timetable:
- Monday, July 11: Competition opens
- Friday, August 5: Application Deadline (submitted by midnight)
- Friday, August 27: Semi-finalists notified
- Thursday, September 8: Interviews with semi-finalists
- Friday, September 9: Finalists notified
- September 19 - 30: Site visits at finalists’ organizations
- October 2022: Winners announced at Center’s Annual Celebration
- November 1, 2022, to November 1, 2024: Professional Development Account Expenditure Period

The selection process includes five stages:
1. Nomination: All eligible EXCEL Award candidates must be nominated. Nominations can be made by board members, staff members, volunteers, clients or community members and can be made with or without the candidate’s knowledge.
2. Selection Committee Decision: The selection committee will review nominations and choose up to 6 semi-finalists. Both the nominator and the candidate will be contacted. For candidates not selected to move forward, only the nominator will be contacted.
3. Interview: Nominees advancing to this stage will be given a 40-minute interview by members of the selection committee. This interview will take place on Thursday, September 8. Questions will focus on leadership philosophy, skills and experiences as chief executive. When candidates are invited to attend the interview, they will be asked to submit their organization’s current mission statement and annual report, budgets and audits from the past two years. No more than 3 finalists will be selected once interviews are complete. (If the nominee is not available on September 8, an alternative date will be arranged. However, full selection committee participation cannot be guaranteed at this interview.)
4. Site Visit: A visit by members of the selection committee at each finalist’s organization will be scheduled. The candidate and the nominator will be required to attend this meeting. Up to two others are also welcome to speak on behalf of the candidate. Site Visits will be scheduled with the finalists during the timeframe of September 19-September 30.
5. Selection: One person will be awarded the GRF CPAs & Advisors 2022 EXCEL Award. Up to two honorable mention recipients may also be selected. The decision of the selection committee is final.

To receive the award money, please submit a copy of the PAID invoice for what the money was spent on. Expenses will be covered by reimbursement. Payments will be made within 60 days of submitted paperwork. Any unused dollar amount in the account will be forfeited. If the EXCEL Awardee leaves his/her chief executive position (either by his/her own choosing or as a board decision) during the two-year expenditure period, the remaining amount in the account will be forfeited. The money given to the awardee’s organization for the purpose of staff development will follow the same criteria as above.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Email applications and questions to:
Sean Sweeney, Director of Education & Special Programs

Or mail to:
The 2022 EXCEL Award
Center for Nonprofit Advancement
Attn: Sean Sweeney
1717 K Street, NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20006

Questions can also be directed to Sean Sweeney by email or call 202.457.0547.

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Maryland: Montgomery and Prince George's Counties;   Virginia;   Washington, DC

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