Gold Award of Excellence

Submit Your Project


Thank you for your interest in the League Volunteer Council’s Gold Award projects! 

The Volunteer Council of the League of American Orchestras knows firsthand the rewards and challenges of initiating and executing projects that benefit orchestras. Each year the Volunteer Council invites organizations to submit outstanding volunteer programs for recognition at the League’s National Conference.

The Gold Award of Excellence recognizes best-in-class programs or initiatives that have made a significant impact on their orchestras. Winners may share their programs with other League volunteers.

Judges may acknowledge entries not chosen for a Gold Award with a Spotlight Award to recognize a best practice or specific tactic within a program that has contributed to its overall success or is a practice or tactic worthy of highlighting in its own right.

At the judges’ discretion, one or more entries may receive a Classic Award to acknowledge a body of achievement. These are initiatives undertaken over many years or decades, which have demonstrated sustained excellence and value to the organization as well as made a long-term impact on its success.


Fundraising is the Gold Award of Excellence’s most popular category, highlighting creative and successful elements of fundraising projects.  Fundraising projects are considered especially successful when there is a high ratio of profit to expense (i.e., at least 60% profit to 40% expense ratio).

Communication/Technology projects highlight uses of communication and technology to promote and enhance volunteer activities. These projects should demonstrate effective use of contemporary technology to bring some aspect of the orchestra to a specific population.

Community Engagement projects increase knowledge of the orchestra within the community. They have greater value when there are external partnerships between symphony staff, volunteers, musicians, etc. and/or external partnerships with other organizations within the community.  Audience Development projects should have the potential to generate an increase in season or single ticket sales and/or attract non-concert going members of the community.

Education projects bring music educational opportunities to children, youth and/or adults by various means such as camps, classes, competitions, petting zoos, etc. These projects have greater value when there are collaborations with schools and other non-profits in the community.

Membership projects are designed to recruit, retain, recognize and train orchestra volunteers.  Membership projects should show an increase in membership numbers or an ability to retain current membership.

Leadership/Organizational Structure projects highlight attempts at building leadership and developing organizational structure by identifying, developing and encouraging leadership.  Leadership/Organizational Structure projects should present models for successfully engaging or training your organization and its membership.

Service projects are any projects that focus on providing support or assistance to the orchestra, orchestra staff, or musicians.  Service projects should showcase the unique ways you serve your orchestra and the community.

Flexibility/Adaptability is a new category this year due to the global pandemic’s impact on orchestras and volunteer organizations. Volunteers had to pivot from organizing elaborate events and programs to creating smaller gatherings or online events. Being flexible and adapting have been keys to success in the “new normal.”


  • Eligible programs/activities must have been completed by June 30, 2020.
  • Entry forms are available from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or from this website. There is no fee to enter and no limit to the number an organization may submit.
  • Completed forms must be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ---Deadline for submissions is August 31, 2020.
  • Winners may present at the 2021 League National Conference.
  • Programs may be entered for any of the project categories listed above.
  • Entering does not require lengthy answers; responses are designed to be concise with maximum word counts of 100 to 400 words.


  • Print out the entry form so you can review the information requested and gather it before going online to fill out the entry form. This form can be saved and edited prior to sending it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as a formal entry.
  • If you aren’t sure your project merits a Gold Award, please consider entering. Judges may determine it worthy of a Spotlight or Classic Award.
  • If you need inspiration, go online to for a searchable database of past winning entries.
  • Please direct questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

View the Gold Award of Excellence Online Database.

Download a copy of the Submission Form.

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.