At $2.5 million, the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize is the world’s largest annual humanitarian award presented to a nonprofit organization.

Hilton Humanitarian Prize trophy
The Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize

Inaugurated in 1996, as a tribute to Conrad N. Hilton’s lifetime of international humanitarian efforts, the annual Hilton Humanitarian Prize is presented to a nonprofit organization judged to have made extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering. It honors the efforts of those who help others for the benefit and progress of humanity.

History of the Prize

The Prize is presented not to an individual, but to a nonprofit organization—to focus attention on the great need for humanitarian aid worldwide and to shine a light on those organizations providing solutions for impacted communities across the globe.

A Prize to honor the philanthropic dimension of Conrad Hilton’s life was suggested by Hilton Foundation Director James Galbraith. The Board saw an opportunity to mount an important and uplifting initiative, which proceeded down a thoughtful and professional exploratory pathway and established a Prize Exploratory Committee under the chairmanship of Jim Galbraith, with Dyanne Hayes serving as staff support. The committee scanned the prize landscape, and found that the initial concept (giving funds to an organization, not an individual) was indeed unique, and formulated a plan of action.

Blueprint for the Hilton Humanitarian Prize Sculpture created by Tiffany & Co.

When established, the $1 million Prize was the largest humanitarian prize and one of the largest monetary prizes in any category—equal to the Nobel and Templeton Prizes. In recent years, prizes have become a popular philanthropic tool to advance innovative and effective methods to address social needs.

In 2005 and 2015, the Board increased the award to $1.5 million and then again to $2 million to recognize the 10th and 20th anniversaries of the Prize. The current $2.5 million level, increased in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Prize, maintains it as the world’s largest humanitarian prize presented to a nonprofit organization.

A worldwide call for nominations engages the global community of humanitarian leaders and organizations each year. Receiving approximately 300 nominations annually, organizations undergo an extensive evaluation by Hilton Humanitarian staff, and a shortlist of finalists is then submitted to an independent, international jury that makes the final selection.

Eight jurors, serving one or more four-year terms, select the recipient. Six international jurors are chosen from among persons prominent in the humanitarian field. To help preserve the vision of the Prize program, the remaining two jurors are a Hilton family member and a Hilton Foundation Board member.

With the goal to further strengthen humanitarian leadership worldwide, in 2020, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Atlas Corps launched the Hilton Humanitarian Prize Laureate Virtual Leadership Institute . The Leadership Institute is a virtual leadership training opportunity for emerging social change leaders exclusively within the Hilton Humanitarian Prize Laureate community. The Leadership Institute is supported by the Hilton Foundation in collaboration with Atlas Corps, a leader in professional exchange and leadership development. At its heart, the Leadership Institute is a community that provides professional development to social change leaders working at organizations that have been recipients of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Each year, approximately 50 Hilton Prize Scholars are accepted into the program.

The Leadership Institute focuses on the three themes of developing self, developing others, and leading movements, while also strengthening connections within the Prize Laureate community. This program includes keynote speakers, interactive workshops, self-led activities, discussion groups, and community-building activities. Scholars also work on individual leadership projects that benefit the Prize Laureate organizations where they work. In addition to engaging within the Prize Laureate community, Scholars become members of the broader Atlas Corps community of more than 1,000 professionals across the globe. Learn more about the Leadership Institute and Hilton Prize Scholars here.