SozialMarie application: Less frequently asked questions


SozialMarie Díj

Are you looking for answers to specific questions about the SozialMarie criteria for social innovation, or the application process? In case you have missed our Q&A event, you might find useful answers in this summary. 

When applying for SozialMarie – Prize for Social Innovation, you will probably scroll through previous winners of the award, check out our Criteria for Social Innovation, and maybe read our FAQ. And we assure you, you will be very well prepared with all this information. It will not only help you to write a convincing application for SozialMarie, but also to communicate the details of your project to different foundations, donors, and the media. However, every project is different, which is why we get new questions concerning our criteria for social innovation every year. We previously hosted an international online Q&A event to answer the most burning issues and summarized the most important topics here.


Who are the most suitable candidates to apply?

We are convinced that the best way to create innovation in society is to work together. For this reason, we accept applications from the public, the private, and the non-profit sector. Most SozialMarie applications come from civil society initiatives and NGOs. However, we would also like to encourage social startups and socially innovative projects within the public sector to apply. The project should already be up and running. We do not offer an award to ideas or projects that are already accomplished.

What organizational form should the project have in order to qualify? (Can it be a small social initiative with only a Facebook group?) 

We do not have specific requirements concerning the legal entity of eligible organizations. As you can apply from all sectors, this can vary to a high degree. If you can prove that your work has an impact on your target group and you can show results, there is no need to be officially registered. In the course of checking your application, we have to make sure the responsible body exists and is accountable. 

Application of individual applicants

“Sometimes it only takes one person to move a mountain.” If a project is run by one individual who is responsible for all project activities, it is also possible to apply for SozialMarie. Apply with the project name and indicate your name as the project leader.

Can we apply using the same project as last year if we were not awarded the prize? 

Yes, you can! When nominating projects, apart from the degree of innovation, our jury aims to pay attention to national diversity and the variety of social problems addressed by elected projects. It might be the case that one year we receive a very large number of applications that address climate issues, and the next year applications that aim to fight poverty. It is always possible that your project will receive more attention from the jury if there are less applications addressing the same social problem. Make sure to describe how your project has developed since your last application. 

Can an international project, which is based in one of the SozialMarie target countries, apply for the prize if it works together with organizations from other countries?

Yes, it can. But it is important that the body responsible for the project is based either in Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Croatia, or Hungary. Projects from Slovenia can also apply if they are within 300 km linear distance from Vienna. 

When is my project implementation “enough”?

As we do not award project ideas, your project should already be in the implementation phase in order to meet our application criteria. This means, you should already be running project activities and able to show some results. Depending on the aim of your project, this might be that you have sold some products, you have organized activities with or for your target group, and you have already started offering your services. When reading your applications, evaluators have to be able to make out the respective results your project has achieved so far. 

How do we know that we are innovative enough to qualify? 

We get this question a lot. Generally, if you are reading our Criteria for Social Innovation, and you feel that the questions relate to your project, you should definitely give it a try and apply for the prize. If you answer “yes” to at least one of the following questions, don’t hesitate to fill out the application form: Does the project deal with new societal challenges? Does the project use new social solutions? Does the project deal with target groups or topics that have so far received little attention? Is the project owner (the organization, the company, the public authority, the private individual) newly involved in the field of social innovation?

It is important to note that our jury also takes local conditions into consideration. Something might not be an innovation in one country or region, but it might be a really new approach in another. This also applies to different sectors: in the high-tech industry, it might be a well-known solution but it is a radical innovation in education. 

What makes a good project presentation? 

Explain clearly and honestly what your project is about, and don’t forget to explain the “obvious.” When you are presenting your project, you should keep in mind that you are the expert on your own project and the reader may not be familiar with its exact context. Make sure you describe the context, the challenge you are addressing, and the sector in which you are active. Before you start filling out the application form, you should think about how your project differs from other similar projects and why you think it is exceptional. You should also consider in advance how you will show that the project has achieved its intended social reach. Based on our experience from our preparatory workshops in Budapest, it can be useful to ask someone who knows your project but is not involved in it to present your project to you. You can learn a lot from seeing your project through the lens of someone else. 

What exactly does target group involvement mean? 

The target group is the group of people who are addressed by the project’s solution to a social challenge and who benefit from it sustainably. Either the target group are passively involved in the project’s activities, or they are actively participating in planning and implementing the project. Alternatively, the target group can themselves independently start a new project to solve a problem they are affected by. All three types of involvement count the same, we do not rank between them. The target group can be more or less broad, but even if you have a broad target group, it is important that you are able to define them.

Does the Audience Award influence the decision of the jury and the chances of winning?

The Audience Award is a separate award and does not influence the jury’s decision on the winners of SozialMarie. 

What exactly should the status of the project be at the time of the application? What if our project just ended a few weeks ago?

The status of the project has to be active at the time of the application. This means that you should still be planning activities or carrying out ongoing activities that will produce outputs in the future. If your project ended a few weeks ago, the question is – are there any related activities for the future? For example, if your project was a book that was published last week, you can still apply if you are planning readings or events related to the book. If you do not have any future plans and your project is not ongoing, it is not eligible to apply for SozialMarie.

Does it make sense to apply for SozialMarie if we work for a relatively “old” organization? 

It is absolutely no problem to apply for SozialMarie if your organization is not new, as long as the project is innovative. We have had several winning and nominated projects by well-established organizations, such as Volkshilfe and Caritas.

Can I nominate projects for SozialMarie?

So far, we have not provided an opportunity for people to nominate projects. If you have a project in mind that would make a good candidate for the prize, please make the project creators aware of the award by sending them our call for applications ( or inviting them to like our Facebook page (

In which languages do I have to submit my application?  

If you are from one of the SozialMarie countries with local country coordinators (Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia), you need to submit your application in both English and your local language. Make sure you select the language of your country in the right-hand corner of the online application form. If you are from a country that is new to SozialMarie (e.g., Slovenia), you need to submit your application in English only. 

Can one organization submit two projects at the same time?

If your organization is working on two distinct projects and both meet the SozialMarie criteria for social innovation, you can apply with both projects.

How extensively do I have to present my organization if I apply with one of its projects?

You do not have to present your organization in detail, but you will have to enter the name of your organization along with basic information in the very last section of the application form.

Is it necessary to upload an extra document? What should it be? 

It is not necessary to upload an extra document. Ideally, your project presentation will provide all the important information the jury needs to get a good overview of your project. As every application is read by two local evaluators, it does not have to be longer than necessary. If you think that you can show your project’s impact more clearly by attaching articles or confidential information, you can do so, but it is not a must. If there are a few pictures showing your project, our evaluators are happy to see them.