Where volunteers, nonprofits, and leaders shine.

1st Annual Awards

CVNL heart of sonoma county

Every day, passionate individuals like you dedicate their work to advancing our communities. CVNL will honor local leaders and their causes at the 1st Annual Heart of Sonoma County Awards on Thursday, June 24, 2021. You’re invited to submit nominees for our inaugural event in eight different award categories. 

All nominees will be recognized at the event in June, and recipients will be announced in each category for work done in 2020. Thanks to the generosity of our Awards Sponsors, we will be able to give $35,000 back to deserving organizations. Let’s recognize the humanity of those who work and volunteer within our nonprofit sector! 


Award Categories

Award categories and corresponding questions are listed below:

The Volunteer of the Year Award and $5,000 for the recipient’s nonprofit will be presented to an individual (other than a board member) who has provided exemplary volunteer service to a Sonoma County nonprofit organization.

  1. Using examples from the past 12 months, describe how the nominee has shown dedication and commitment to the organization or its constituents.
  2. Illustrate how the nominee made a significant, positive impact on the organization or the community it serves during the past 12 months.
  3. Briefly state the organization’s mission and services offered. How long has the nominee volunteered for the organization, including the number of years served and type of service?

Sponsored by: Exchange Bank 


The Excellence in Board Leadership Award and $5,000 for the recipient’s nonprofit will be presented to an exceptional volunteer member of a Sonoma County nonprofit board of directors.

  1. Using examples from the past 12 months, describe how the nominee has made a significant, positive and measurable impact on the organization.
  2. How has the nominee demonstrated leadership, dedication and exhibited best practices in nonprofit governance during the past 12 months?
  3. Describe how the nominee has supported a collaborative relationship with the executive director, constituents, and/or the community.
  4. Briefly state the organization’s mission and services offered.


The Corporate Community Service Award will be presented to a business that has fostered and encouraged volunteerism and philanthropy among its employees.

  1. Briefly write a statement demonstrating the organization’s corporate commitment to volunteerism, community service, or civic engagement. How does this align with the business’ culture, values, and goals?
  2. Give examples of programs or initiatives that have encouraged or demonstrated volunteerism, community service, or civic engagement (i.e. matching grants, recruitment and placing of volunteers, board service, recognition, paid time off for service activities).
  3. Describe the measurable outcomes in Sonoma County that have resulted from programs or initiatives, including the number of participants.
  4. Over the past 12 months, how has the nominee responded to the increased need of the community?


The Excellence in Innovation Award and $5,000 will be presented to an individual, organization, or partnership that has developed new, creative, and effective strategies for advancing solutions to critical issues in our community.

  1. Briefly state the nominee’s mission and services offered.
  2. How has the nominee elevated the field by advancing new approaches, concepts, initiatives, strategies and/or structures that inspire breakthrough thinking and serve as a model for others?
  3. Describe how the innovation reflects responsiveness, good management practices, and effectiveness.
  4. What makes it innovative? Provide a specific example or story that demonstrates the utilization of innovation in this practice.
  5. Explain how the level of excellence is assessed and measured: include emerging evidence or results if possible.

Sponsored by: Kaiser Permanente Marin-Sonoma


Up to five Youth Volunteer of the Year Awards of $1,000 each will be presented to full-time middle or high school students serving a Sonoma County nonprofit in the community, education, or faith environment.

  1. Provide the school and grade of the nominee.
  2. Using examples from the past 12 months, illustrate how the nominee has made a significant, positive impact on the organization.
  3. Using examples from the past 12 months, describe how the nominee has demonstrated dedication and commitment to the organization, its constituents and/or the community.
  4. Briefly state the organization’s mission and services offered. How long has the nominee volunteered for the organization, including the number of hours served and type of service?

Sponsored by: Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund


The Excellence in Leadership Award and $5,000 for the recipient’s nonprofit will be presented to an executive director who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and whose vision has inspired meaningful and lasting change benefiting the organization and community.

  1. Briefly state the organization’s mission. Provide date of hire for the nominee. To qualify, the nominee must have held their current position for a minimum of three years.
  2. Describe the programs, strategies, and services the nominee implemented to advance the mission of the organization. Include measurable outcomes.
  3. Describe any extraordinary challenges the nominee has overcome and how these challenges were addressed.
  4. What has the nominee done to ensure the organization’s sustainability?
  5. How has the nominee exemplified excellence in leadership and served as a role model among their peers and the community?

Sponsored by: Medtronic 


The Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence Award and $5,000 will be presented to an organization that has demonstrated exemplary service to its constituents.

  1. Briefly state the organization’s mission and services offered.
  2. What community need or problem is addressed? Explain how the organization benefits the constituents/community.
  3. Describe the measurable outputs and outcomes that have resulted from the program(s).
  4. How has the organization demonstrated excellence in programs, financial performance, board and volunteer involvement or resource development?
  5. Describe and provide examples of efforts that have been made to ensure organizational sustainability.

Sponsored by: Community Foundation Sonoma County


The Lifetime Achievement Award and $5,000 for the individual’s nonprofit(s) will be presented to an individual who has made a positive and notable difference during their career by significantly contributing to address a cause, issue, or discipline. This is the only nomination category where additional material is accepted.

  1. Describe the nominee’s body of work and length of time working consistently, visibly, and persistently to address a cause, issue, or discipline.
  2. How have they addressed or advanced the cause, issue, or discipline? Provide up to 3 specific examples, with dates of occurrence, of the nominee’s significant contributions (i.e. strategy, teaching, program design, approaches, etc.).
  3. Describe the nominee’s leadership history, such as participation on committees or workgroups, with examples of contributions that addressed their cause, issue, or discipline.
  4. How does the nominee’s story inspire others to higher standards or raise awareness in addressing a particular cause, issue, or discipline?

Sponsored by: Redwood Credit Union


Nominating Procedures

Please complete your nominations online according to these FAQ’s:

The deadline for nominations is April 30th, 2021, by 5:00 p.m. All nominations are being accepted online here.  

You may nominate in multiple categories and self-nominations are accepted, although we welcome you to nominate a community partner who inspires the work you do.

Please review the questions associated with each award category. You will be required to respond to these in your narrative.

The submitted narrative should be in 12-point font, 1” margins, and may not exceed three (3) pages. No supplementary materials will be accepted and could disqualify your submission (unless you are submitting a nomination for Lifetime Achievement).

Answer each question as completely as possible, providing data/outcomes/examples if asked. 


It is fine if your work goes outside of Sonoma County, but remember this is an award for service in the particular county – focus on that within your narrative/s.

After completing your online nomination, an automatic email will be sent to the email provided for the nominee and nominator letting them know of the successful submission.

About the Event

We’re excited to bring this recognition event to our Sonoma County community!

Heart events have celebrated the achievements of nonprofits and volunteers for decades. We have produced similar events – Heart of Marin and Heart of Napa Awards – for years, and have been able to award hundreds of thousands of dollars back to nonprofits and the individuals who serve them.

Heart of Sonoma County will not only help support nonprofits with critical funds, but provide a platform for sharing success stories, innovative strategies, and information on services offered with the broader community. Now more than ever nonprofits deserve recognition for the life-changing, vital services they provide every day. 

The community is encouraged to nominate in all award categories. Award category panels are hand-selected and meet to select recipients in each category. CVNL facilitates these panels, but does not have a vote. 

Everyone is invited to attend the awards ceremony where the recipients are announced and all nominees are recognized for their contributions. It is an afternoon filled with inspiration, gratitude, and some (happy) tears!

That’s great! Each nomination received is reviewed and judged separately by Award Panelists. However, the number of times someone is nominated does not influence the likelihood of that person/organization being selected as the recipient. This is why it is so important that you submit complete and thoughtful nominations which address ALL of the corresponding questions. 

The event is our opportunity to publicly acknowledge all nominees and their commitments to the community. Since we do not announce award recipients in advance, all nominees are expected to attend. This year’s event is free for all community members! 

We’d love to see you there – click here to register

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor!


Comerica Incorporated is a financial services company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, strategically aligned into three major business segments: the Business Bank, the Retail Bank, and Wealth Management. Discover more by visiting https://www.comerica.com/.

Award & Media Sponsors

Support the Event

We are currently seeking Award Sponsors in the following categories (partial sponsorship may be available in some categories):

  • Corporate Community Service
  • Excellence in Board Leadership

Click here to download our Award Sponsor package, or contact Dawn: dbell@cvnl.org

We are offering the event for free this year, so donations are welcome and appreciated. You can text-to-donate or click below to donate online. Thank you for your support!

Text “CVNL” to 930-212-3456 to donate now. 

heart of sonoma county sponsorship