Skoll Foundation


Skoll Awards Overview

Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship

The Skoll Foundation presents the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship each year to a select group of social entrepreneurs whose proven innovations are disrupting an unjust and unsustainable status quo and have demonstrated impact on solving some of the world’s most pressing problems. The Skoll Award recognizes organizations that have the potential to scale their success and also to drive large-scale, systems change.

We select Awardees that focus on one or more of the following issues:

In addition to investing in its Awardees, the Skoll Foundation connects them to a robust global network of social entrepreneurs, innovators, and corporate and government leaders who attend the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford and are networked year-round through the Skoll World Forum Online.

Skoll Awards Nominations

The Skoll Foundation applies a multi-year sourcing process for the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship. Our goal is to save organizations valuable time and effort, while identifying the most highly-aligned social entrepreneurs. To that end, the Skoll Foundation only accepts nominations from our network of partners and does not accept unsolicited nominations.

Criteria and Eligibility for a Skoll Award

Please note that unlike in past years, our sourcing process for the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship is based on solicited referrals and nominations only.

If you have been solicited to refer and/or nominate an Awardee, please review the Skoll Award criteria closely to determine whether the organization would be eligible and likely to receive the Award.

The selection process for the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship is extremely competitive, with fewer than 10 Awards given annually. Please note that not all organizations that meet the eligibility requirements and align with our criteria receive the Award.

Qualifying organizations will be evaluated against the following criteria:
  • Social Entrepreneur: The organization is led by a visionary social entrepreneur whose values are embedded in the culture of the organization.
  • Issue Area: The mission of the organization addresses a critical and timely issue identified by the Skoll Foundation as one of world’s most pressing problems.
  • Innovation: The organization has an approach that fundamentally disrupts an unsustainable and unjust status quo to solve social and/or environmental problems.
  • Impact Potential: The organization’s innovation is positioned to effect large-scale policy, behavior, and/or infrastructure/systems change and shows evidence of significant impact already achieved. The organization has a sound and viable business model and a compelling plan for achieving long-term growth and sustainability.
  • Collaboration: The organization has partnerships in place to optimize its model and execute its mission on a larger scale. It is a key actor that has local, regional, national and/or other key players in its ecosystem.
  • Skoll Leverage: The organization will benefit from engaging with the Skoll Foundation by collaborating with our network of entrepreneurs and by accessing media and fundraising opportunities as well as other services provided by Skoll. This requires that the organization actively participates and engages with the Skoll community of social entrepreneurs and thought leaders.
Skoll Award recipients typically exhibit many of the following characteristics:
  • Led by a visionary, effective social entrepreneur serving as a spokesperson for their issue area
  • Strong leadership team and board
  • Clear and unwavering focus on mission
  • Sound business model, scalable for impact
  • Strong, strategic partnerships
  • Commitment to measurement, evaluation, and learning
  • Diversified and mission-aligned funding sources

Legal Structures

To receive a Skoll Award, an organization must be a legally-incorporated entity. Organizations that do not have 501(c)(3) public charity status, including organizations based in other countries, will be asked to submit additional documentation at the appropriate time.

In general, Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship will not support:
  • Individuals, either through scholarships or other forms of financial support
  • Programs promoting religious or ideological doctrine, such as those principally sectarian in nature
  • Lobbying (beyond that allowed by law for charitable organizations)
  • Film financing
  • Endowments, cash reserves or deficit reductions
  • Government agencies
  • University-based projects
  • Public schools and school districts
  • Land, site acquisition or facilities construction
  • Institutions that discriminate on the basis of race, creed, age, gender or sexual orientation in policy or practice
  • Grantmaking to other organizations or individuals
  • Event sponsorship
  • Political campaigns
  • New or early-stage business plans or ideas
  • Organizations whose missions and work focus on a single municipality, province or state
  • Local offices of parent organizations or specific programs within organizations

For further information about the application process please read the Frequently Asked Questions page.


© 2015 Skoll Foundation.