The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

Recognizing the Most Innovative Nonprofits of 2016

Recognizing the Most Innovative Nonprofits of 2016

Applications are open for the Classy Awards, recognizing the most innovative nonprofit and social enterprise programs of 2016.

Today’s nonprofits are playing a more significant role than ever in shaping our society’s future. They are challenging the status quo by introducing creative thinking and new technologies to address our greatest problems. The Classy Awards exists to recognize these innovators, and shine a spotlight on their efforts.

Submit your program for consideration in 10 minutes before January 22, 2017.

Each year, nonprofit programs nominated for a Classy Award are evaluated by the Leadership Council, an honorary panel of 100 global nonprofits, foundations, international agencies, academia, and media. Last year’s Leadership Council included executives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Caterpillar Foundation, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, GE Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Microsoft Philanthropies, Prudential Impact Investments, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Media participants included Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes Magazine, Mashable, National Geographic, and Upworthy.

The Top 100 Finalists will be announced on March 13, 2017. Each organization selected as a Finalist receives:

  • Two (2) VIP passes to the Collaborative, a 3-day event in Boston, MA, that convenes 1,500 of the top leaders across the social sector June 13-15, 2017.
  • Invitation to a private three-hour brunch with top foundations and impact investors from across the country on June 15, 2017.
  • Two (2) VIP tickets to the Classy Awards Ceremony on June 15, 2017.

View the 2016 Top 100 Finalists.

The Top 10 Winners will be announced onstage at the Classy Awards Ceremony on June 15, 2017, in Boston, MA, in front of a 1,500-person audience. Last year’s Classy Award Winners included:

  • AYZH—JANMA Clean Birth Kit ensures safe and sterile conditions during childbirth
  • Bridges to Prosperity—building footbridges to drive education, health care, & economic opportunities
  • Design That Matters—the Firefly Phototherapy Device uses phototherapy to treat jaundice
  • HelpMeSee—committing to end cataract blindness through surgical training
  • Lucky Iron Fish—ensuring the developing world has iron
  • Orbis International—reinventing global eye health worldwide
  • Organize—using social media to register for the organ donor system
  • Project Concern International—using satellite vegetation data to help pastoralists find grazing pastures
  • Safe Water Network—a market-based solution to deliver reliable & affordable water
  • Ushahidi—elevating voices of marginalized communities through open source software

Submit your program for consideration in 10 minutes before January 22, 2017.

Recognizing the Most Innovative Nonprofits of 2016The preceding is a guest post by Pat Walsh, cofounder and chief impact officer at, recognized by Fast Company as one of the Most Innovative Companies for Social Good. In his role, Pat leads the Collaborative, Classy Awards, and Progress. Pat was selected by Bloomberg BusinessWeek as one of the Top 5 Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs in America.

Topics: Nonprofit Innovation