Frequently Asked Questions

The Application Process

How do I apply?

All applications are submitted online. See Application Process for a description of the application process.

What are the eligibility requirements for application?

Organizations should be registered as a nonprofit in the United States or hold an equivalent incorporation status in their home country; have an annual operational budget of or above $500,000 USD; have been operational for three years or more; and have no direct lobbying expenses to influence legislation or elections, programs with religious content, or programs that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age or disability. See the Eligibility and Evaluation Criteria pages for more information. Please note: Lipman Family Prize funds cannot be redistributed by our honorees to other organizations and/or individuals.

Does my organization have to be a nonprofit or non-governmental organization to apply?

Yes, the work of your organization must focus on addressing a social problem and be registered as a nonprofit in the United States or the equivalent incorporation status in a different country or countries. If your country of incorporation does not have an equivalent to nonprofit incorporation status, please contact us at to discuss your eligibility.

Will an organization’s budget size affect its ability to compete for the prize?

Yes, applicant organizations should have an annual operating budget of $500,000 USD or more. This is not an appropriate competition for organizations in a start-up phase. See the Eligibility page for more information about past organizations that have done well in our selection process.

Can I apply for a program, project or initiative?

Yes, a well-established organization may also choose to apply for a program (which includes projects, initiatives, etc.) if it thinks that the program presents a stronger case for differentiation and transferability, or is better suited to use the Lipman Prize to move to its next phase of growth. If submitting a program application, the program must meet the same basic Eligibility Criteria as an organizational applicant, and have strong evidence of achieving its outcomes over at least three years of operation. In all cases, the Lipman Prize does not provide seed money for start-up or newly piloted programs. An example of a program application that won the Lipman Prize is Shared Safety from Women Against Abuse.

What supporting documents are required? How do I submit these?

All applicants must provide several brief essay responses, organizational budgets, and other organizational details through the online application system. Organizations selected for further consideration will be notified in September and asked to provide additional documentation including, but not limited to, financial audits, tax records, information on staff and board of directors, evaluation tools, and strategy documents. All materials collected during the selection process will be considered confidential.

Are there restrictions on how my organization can use the prize money if awarded?

No. There are no restrictions on how the winner or honorees of the prize uses their cash award. We believe firmly in the value of unrestricted cash awards for social sector organizations. However, Lipman Family Prize funds cannot be redistributed by our honorees to other organizations and/or individuals.

What will happen if my application is incomplete at the deadline?

Incomplete applications will not be reviewed or considered for the prize.

Can I mail my organization’s application?

No. Only applications submitted electronically through our online system will be reviewed.

Can I apply multiple years in a row?

Yes. At this time there is no limit to how many times an organization may apply. However, this does not apply to previous honorees. Currently, any past honoree is not eligible to apply for the prize again. Applicants chosen as semifinalists are also asked not to apply in the following application year, although they may still apply after the one-year break.

Is there a confidentiality statement for the application process?

Yes, there is a confidentiality statement for the application process. Please read it below:

Lipman Family Prize Confidentiality Statement

All materials shared with the Lipman Family Prize as part of our application process will be kept confidential. If there is a desire to share any data related to individual applicants, the Lipman Prize will make a direct request for permission.

The Evaluation & Selection Process

How will my application be evaluated?

The significance and global relevance of the social challenge being addressed, quality of the program model, the logic and differentiation of the design of the approach, and the impact of the applicant’s work are the four core elements assessed during the initial application review. Organizational capacity and transferability will be assessed for applicants receiving further consideration. This will include a review of the organization’s staff and board, a financial analysis, and media search among other elements.

Who will review the applications?

A team of external reviewers (professionals in the social sector) and graduate student fellows guided by Lipman Family Prize staff complete the first two phases of the review process. From there, our Prize Committee, composed of leaders from the social sector, academic and business worlds, will select the honorees and winner for the Prize.

Will I be able to receive feedback on my application?

Organizations can request a conversation about their application upon notification that they are no longer being considered in the selection process. Overall demand will dictate the timing and format of the conversation.

Will there be a site visit or interview as part of the selection process?

The three organizations selected as honorees are required to participate in an on-campus interview in March. No similar requirements exist for organizations not selected as honorees.

Once Honorees Are Chosen

What is the process for the honorees?

Honorees will be notified by the end of February. They will be required to participate in a live interview with the Prize Committee at the University of Pennsylvania campus. Honorees will be notified of the Prize Committee’s final decision regarding the winner in early April.

What is the organizational commitment for the winner and honorees?

The winner and other two honorees are required to attend an interview with the Prize Committee in March and the Lipman Family Prize Award Ceremony in April. These will be held in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. Costs of domestic flights (or a portion of international flights) and accommodations of both trips will be paid for by the Lipman Family Prize. For all three honorees, the award components also include a year-long collaborative engagement with the University to help develop and share knowledge with the greater social impact community.

What is the value of the Lipman Family Prize for the winner and honorees?

In addition to the monetary award, the ongoing partnership with the University can potentially include a combination of the following: tuition-free executive education, pro-bono consulting, support from student projects, inclusion in faculty research and participation in peer learning events. Not only does the award and recognition support organizational growth, but together with students and faculty, Lipman honorees are part of a unique learning community within the social sector.

What is the process for the winner and honorees to receive their monetary award?

After being selected as an honoree or winner, if your organization is a U.S.-based entity that will be receiving the funds, your organization will be asked to submit a W-9 form and receive instructions for setting up a supplier account and receiving payment through our Penn Marketplace system. If your organization is solely registered as a foreign supplier/payee and does not have a U.S.-based entity able to receive the funds, please let us know so we can talk to you about how your prize would be distributed.  The University of Pennsylvania is required to withhold 30% tax from the prize/award unless your organization claims a reduced rate of, or exemption from, withholding under an income tax treaty or the IRS issued you a determination letter certifying that you qualify as a section 501(c) organization.


Important Dates

July 1, 2020
Online Application Opens

[NEW] August 3, 2020 (5:00 PM EDT)
Application Submission Deadline

September 2020
Phase 1 Notification

February 2021
Honorees Announced

April 2021
Winner Announced, Award Ceremony

Join Our Community