The essay and the testimonial letters are often the most valuable portions of the application for the judges. The following tips provide insight into what the judges are looking for and can help you submit the most effective essay:
1. Be as specific as possible. For example, give a close estimate of the number of hours volunteered, the number of people the nominee helped, the number of dollars raised, etc. Vague words like "countless" "incalculable" or even "thousands" are of very little use to the judges.
2. Don't rely on adjectives. Superlatives like "kindest", "most dedicated", "most generous"—though certainly true—don't help the judges evaluate a nominee's achievements. Instead, describe something the nominee did that illustrates how kind or dedicated he or she is.
3. Don't be modest. If you are uncomfortable talking about your achievements, have someone else write the essay portion for you and/or provide detailed testimonials. Testimonials from someone you've helped are particularly valuable.
4. Focus on your accomplishments, not the organization's in general. The judges need to evaluate the impact that the nominee has personally made. Don't make the mistake of only emphasizing how much good the organization has done; instead, focus on what the nominee has done for the organization.