Gold Award of Excellence

Submit Your Project


Thank you for your interest in the League Volunteer Council’s Gold Award projects! We're excited to announce our 2020 winners!

The Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras knows firsthand the rewards and challenges of initiating and executing projects at your orchestra. Our goal is to inspire, educate, and excite you – bringing you details about the best and most innovative volunteer-driven projects from across the country in categories including: Audience Development/Community Engagement, Communication/Technology, Education, Leadership/Organizational Structure, Membership, Fundraising, Service Projects, with descriptions, project details, and contact information, so if you have further questions you can follow up! And don’t forget, many projects can be adapted for use by any volunteer organization, regardless of size or budget.

Each year, the Volunteer Council presents the most outstanding volunteer projects submitted to Gold Award of Excellence or Spotlight Awards. Winning projects are selected based upon originality, volunteer involvement, adaptability, and the overall success of the projects.

View the Gold Award of Excellence Online Database.

*Helpful Hints:

  • The database is sorted to show the most recent projects first and are grouped by their primary category within each year. You can reorder and regroup by clicking “Sort” or “Grouped by 2 Fields” at the top of the page and changing the settings to suit your needs.
  • The search function can be accessed by clicking the magnifying class in the upper right hand corner.
  • Entries can be filtered to show only certain types of projects by clicking the “Filter” button. For example, you could look for projects for orchestras of only your budget size, or projects by purpose.

Download a copy of the Submission Form.

Please note that you cannot save your form and return to it later. All information must be submitted at once.

The Gold Award was created in 1976 by the Volunteer Council (formally known as the Woman's Council) and by Ralph Black, executive director of the League of American Orchestras, who secured a grant for the first publication. The legendary name comes from the idea that the book is "worth its weight in gold." In 1976 copies sold for $5.00. The book's purpose was to highlight volunteer organizations’ activities and provide innovative examples for other volunteer organizations to adapt and follow. In the years since then, the Gold Book has proven itself a goldmine for volunteers across the country and Canada. And since transitioning to an online platform in 2005, accessing this resource is even easier (and free).

Gold Book Awards of Excellence: Announcing the 2020 Winners!

Lunch and Learn
Amarillo Symphony

What better way to learn about an upcoming concert than to have a box lunch on stage with some of the musicians, the conductor and the guest artist.  Lunch and Listening heightens guild members concert experience. Guests of guild members have so enjoyed the event that they have often purchase concert tickets.

A Southern Savour Supper Club
Dallas Symphony Orchestra

A magnificent estate was the setting for A Southern Savour Supper Club, a fundraiser that was created to be an affair of the heart as well as a fundraising venture. Volunteers turned its past more generic event, “Savor the Symphony,“ into an unforgettable garden-party themed evening that drew praise as well as dollars.

MSOL e- News: Reaching Members in a Digital Age
Madison Symphony Orchestra

Who needs a paper newsletter when you can go digital? Not Madison Symphony Orchestra League! They created a monthly e-News to showcase initiatives, provide links to upcoming events and more. Their digital communications keep members informed and engaged.

Orchestrating Excellence Fundraising Luncheon
Oklahoma City Orchestra League

Sharing the education and community outreach story of the orchestra inspired 180 donors to give $180,000 in a free one-hour luncheon. The inventive approach and strategy behind the model brought in 85% new givers in the first year!

Utah Symphony Youth Guild
Utah Symphony Orchestra

For 63 years, students have had meaningful opportunities for greater involvement in the arts through service and education activities offered by the Utah Symphony Youth Guild to its members - youth 8-18, both musicians and non musicians alike. A survey of members ensures the program remains vibrant, relevant and accessible.

A Change of Seasons for "The Four Seasons" at the Women's Symphony League of Tyler 2019 Ball
Women's Symphony League of Tyler

A change of seasons can be just what is needed to shed the “leaves” of the past and “sprout” new growth. With declining participation in its annual presentation ball, the Women’s Symphony League of Tyler successfully revamped its longstanding event with little drama and no bylaws changes and gave it new life.


Gold Book Awards of Excellence: 2019 Winners

by Cindy Kidwell

Innovation, best practice, return on investment, volunteer involvement, and impact describe projects from across the nation that will be featured during the League of American Orchestras National Conference in Nashville this June. Six Gold Book Award of Excellence Winners, chosen from submissions on the volunteer website, will be recognized and featured during Volunteer Track sessions.

Enjoy a thumbnail sketch of each project to get a glimpse of what you will learn in Nashville from the presentations of these award-winning projects. The following are listed in alphabetical order by symphony name. Congratulations to each Award of Excellence winner; we look forward to hearing details about your projects in Nashville!

2017 President’s Holiday Reception—with a Peppermint Twist
The Symphony Guild of Charlotte, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

The Guild leadership faced a big challenge—how to create an event that would engage leadership in serious strategic discussions without creating one more meeting. The result—a “bring your own chili mug” buffet dinner and lively retreat paired with the President’s annual holiday reception for board members and committee chairs.

Dia de los Muertos
West Suburban Friends of Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Sinfonietta

A unique fundraising event inspired by traditions of Mexican origin, Dia de los Muertos, featured dinner, a silent auction, and face painting. Guests were encouraged to arrive in costume and were treated to a mariachi band and an authentic Mexican menu. Volunteers not only generated a healthy net profit, but also met their goal to increase ticket sales and introduce new subscribers to the orchestra.

Friendship & Fellowship—Finding Our Sustainers
Women’s Symphony League of Tyler, East Texas Symphony Orchestra

Supporting active membership and the League’s administrative budget, sustaining memberships were on the decline. WSL leadership set a lofty goal of increasing sustaining membership to 200–an addition of 75 members. This League took a closer look at what drives membership, developed a plan of action, and achieved its goal!

2018 Houston Symphony Ball: The Balinese Room & Silent Auction
Houston Symphony League, Houston Symphony Orchestra

Volunteers for the annual Ball were focused on bringing new life to the Ball’s silent auction. Profits soared with three new ideas: five creatively assembled packages of symphony experiences from across the country; a pay-to-play “grab bag” game featuring upscale donations from exclusive shops of River Oaks; and annual memberships to a variety of Houston museums and other cultural centers.

Kansas City Symphony Ball 2017 – “An Evening in Vienna”
Kansas City Symphony League, Kansas City Symphony

Vienna and its romantic waltzes inspired League volunteers for their annual gala. The Ball joined together individuals, local businesses, and the arts community for one elegant evening—and more! The League honored benefactors three nights before the ball, and featured the Kansas City Ballet and Symphony together at the ball, and two months later, the League sponsored a shopping spree to boost total earnings.

Symphony of the City “Art and Architecture of Waco”
Waco Symphony Council, Waco Symphony Orchestra

Replacing two established fundraising events which had “run their course” led the Waco Symphony Council to create “Symphony of the City,” a progressive cocktail party in unique homes of Waco. The mechanics of planning a party on the move, developing new volunteer roles, community engagement, and managing change were critical in achieving their goal.