The Samaritan Award

Application Period Closed

The 2008 Samaritan Award Winners have been announced. Please visit the homepage or delve into the Guide to find out more about this years winners and runners-up.

The Samaritan Award


The Samaritan Award is given to a highly successful, privately funded charity whose work is direct, personal, and accountable. It’s purpose is to encourage charities who, like the Good Samaritan, get intimately involved with each individual, discover the right solutions, and then work determinedly to transform lives.

All entrants for the Samaritan Award fill out a comprehensive application which is scored for the following criteria:

  1. how well the program fosters personal change in the individuals served;
  2. how well the program evaluates outcomes or results;
  3. to what extent spirituality is incorporated into programming; and
  4. how well the program implements Marvin Olasky’s seven “principles of effective compassion.”

Learn more about our methodology.

All applicants are included in the online Samaritan Guide, a valuable marketing and development tool for charities.


  • $10,000 is awarded to the First Prize winner and $1,000 is awarded to two Runners-Up.
  • Top ten honorees receive national publicity in a special edition of WORLD magazine.
  • Two randomly selected charities will win $500.
  • All applicants are included in the Samaritan Guide. The Guide gives charities valuable online exposure through a database used by thousands each year.


Domestic Charities Only—At this time, we are not equipped to evaluate international charities.

Assists Individuals—The Samaritan Award seeks out effective charities that directly help vulnerable, human populations.

Privately Funded—Charities that receive more than fifteen percent of their budget from government sources are not eligible for the Samaritan Award.

Top Ten Winners—Last year’s top ten organizations are only eligible for the top three prizes. After a two-year hiatus, top ten finalists are again eligible for the top ten. For example, the 2007 top ten finalists can only win the top three prizes in 2008. After 2008, they are still encouraged to apply to update their information in the guide; but they cannot become a top ten finalist for two years (that is, 2011).

Grand Prize Winner—A charitable organization cannot win the grand prize more than once every five years.

Application Process

In an effort to improve the application process, we are making a sample application available now so interested charities can review the form and gather needed information. The Acton Institute reserves the right to make changes to the application but the bulk of the data requested will not change.

Only online applications will be accepted from April 15-May 30, 2008. DO NOT mail us your application. If you have questions contact Karen Weber at or 616-454-3080.

Samaritan Guide