“What’s the Big Idea?” Award

The 2019 “What’s the Big Idea?” Award at the Alliance Management Institute recognizes a group of Alliance campus students who have identified a high-impact solution to make the world a better place. Big Ideas use the resources of the nonprofit sector to bring out marked and transformational change. Initial Big Idea presentations will take place at the 2019 AMI Ideas Forum (formerly known as the AMI Poster Session), on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Finalists from the “What’s the Big Idea?” category will be selected to present at the January 3, 2019, AMI plenary. The Big Idea Award will be presented on Friday, January 4, 2019, at the AMI closing awards ceremony. 

Didn’t make it to the 2019 “What’s the Big Idea?” Introductory Webinar? Click here to view the recording.

Table of Contents:

What is the “Big Idea”?
Participation Steps
Award Requirements
Criteria for Judging Big Idea Presentations
Important Dates


What is a “Big Idea”?

  • A Big Idea is a concept, program or initiative that brings about BIG IMPACT.  While one organization or one community can benefit from change, a Big Idea is scalable, allowing the benefit to spread to many organizations and/or communities.  
  • A Big Idea is a transformational solution – one that has far reaching, systemic effects on the identified issue, problem or challenge.
  • A Big Idea does not have to be new or innovative. A Big Idea can be built from repurposed ideas or the combination of existing ideas — but presented in a new way that increases their power or reach.

Objectives of the Award

  • Build the capacity of nonprofit leaders to think beyond the current practices and ideas to generate innovative solutions to society’s most pressing issues.
  • Provide students with an opportunity to develop systems-thinking, creative problem-solving, project management, team-building, leadership and persuasion skills.
  • Create a platform that advocates for Big Ideas that are both implementable and replicable and will be shared broadly with social change agents and organizations.

Participation Steps

  1. Read competition requirements
  2. Read “What is a Big Idea?” and examples
  3. Recruit a team of Alliance students from your campus program
  4. Submit Intent to Participate application by Friday, October 19, 2018
  5. Submit Big Idea presentation by Friday, December 14, 2018
  6. Presentation on January 2, 2019 at AMI Ideas Forum.

Award Requirements

  • Only enrolled students from Alliance campus partners may participate
  • Students must be registered for AMI 2019
  • Graduate and undergraduate students are eligible

Criteria for Judging Big Idea Presentations

The Big Idea is well-defined.

  • What is the problem, issue or challenge addressed?
  • What is the desired outcome?
  • What is your solution (Big Idea) and how will its implementation lead to the desired outcome?
  • How is it is different from existing solutions?

The Big Idea will generate transformational impact.

  • What difference the Big Idea will make?
  • What does a world with the Big Idea in place look like?
  • What does resolving the problem change?
  • Are the outcomes deep or wide?

The Big Idea outcomes are measurable.

  • How we will know that the Big Idea makes a difference?
  • How will the change be measured in terms of quality and quantity?

Resources required to launch or implement the Big Idea are realistic.   

  • Is the Big Idea realistic/viable?
  • What are the critical resource needs and how will they be acquired?

Presentation of the Big Idea is strong.

  • Was the presentation focused and on point?
  • Were the presenters clear and engaging?
  • Was PowerPoint used as a tool, rather than an outline?

Important Dates (please note all dates are subject to change)

Tues., April 10, 2018        Mon., Aug. 6, 2018 Fri., Oct. 19, 2018 Fri., Dec. 14, 2018   Wed., Jan. 2, 2019 Thurs., Jan. 3, 2019       Fri., Jan. 4, 2019    
“What’s the Big Idea?” Award Introductory Webinar Intent to Participate Application becomes available Intent to Participate Application Due Presentations Due Idea Forum: Initial Presentations Finalists’ Presentations (plenary) Award Announced


See below photos of the 2018 “What’s the Big Idea?” Award. 

For any questions, please contact Andrew Juarez. 

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