Thousands entered, and a few have been nominated. If you’ve been on social media lately, you must have seen all those humbled, grateful, and elated people telling you they’re up for a One Voice USA Award.
It may be mildly annoying to see this wave of shameless self-promotion, but these people are smart because only one can be a winner in each category, so, now is the time to market the heck out of making it to the top of the list (which is quite an accomplishment)!
Now, this is not one of those blog posts where I’m going to say that these awards are meaningless, rigged, and irrelevant. You may remember that I’ve been a One Voice judge a couple of times, and I can assure you that everything is totally above board, and the people organizing it do so with their own money (and a few sponsors).
Remember: it doesn’t cost anything to submit your audio to One Voice, and those who win don’t have to pay for their prize. This is in stark contrast to the Voice Arts Awards run by the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences (SOVAS) where it costs money to enter, and if you want a shiny statue, you pay out of your own pocket. A single entry for non-members is $140 going up to $170 (companies pay more, and there are no cash refunds). Click here for the rules and fees.
A SOVAS award plaque certificate costs $175 and a statue is $355. And I didn’t even include the handling fee. (click here to see pricing)
By the way, did you know that SOVAS is listed as a nonprofit, and was awarded 2 out of 4 stars by the independent website Charity Navigator?
Why didn’t SOVAS earn 4 stars? Well, they got dinged because there’s no documentation of an independent audit or financial review, there’s no document retention and destruction policy, no whistleblower policy, AND (and this is big) SOVAS has no conflict of interest policy. Isn’t that interesting when you’re running a competition in a field where lots of people know lots of people who know lots of people?
I mean, the SOVAS judges are known publicly ahead of the competition, whereas the judges for One Voice are not allowed to tell anyone they’re judging until the last winner is announced. Why? To make sure they’re not being influenced.
Let’s be clear: I’m not saying that anything nefarious is going on at SOVAS or that their judges are playing favorites. I will never take part in any competition so I have no skin in the game. I have no axe to grind with anyone involved in these awards. I’m only telling you what Charity Navigator has concluded, based on the available IRS tax returns; returns you can access yourself by going to charitynavigator.org.
There’s one important caveat. Charity Navigator states: “The IRS is significantly delayed in processing nonprofits’ annual tax filings (Forms 990). As a result, the Accountability & Finance score for Society of Voice Arts and Sciences Inc. is outdated and the overall rating may not be representative of its current operations.”
Bear in mind that the Voice Arts Awards are now in their 10th year, so even if they’ve made recent changes to earn a 4-star rating (which we don’t know), they’ve been operating on a different basis in all the previous years Charity Navigator has on record.
In spite of my headline I’m not going to tell you how to spend your money, and which award will give you more bang for your buck or more credit. You have to decide if you want money to be an arbiter of talent.
Objectively speaking, winning a One Voice Award will give you more ROI, simply because there’s no investment required. There are also plenty of voice overs who submit to both competitions and who believe that paying for a submission and prize is part of their promotional budget. To them I say: do whatever makes you happy!
If you’ve been nominated for a One Voice USA Award, CONGRATULATIONS!!!
I really hope you win!
PS After this article was published, I was harassed on social media by fans of SOVAS and the Voice Arts Awards, and I’ve been receiving anonymous emails filled with nasty personal attacks from people making false accusations and defending the SOVAS leadership. Some of these people are trying to leave these messages in the comment section of this blog. It is my policy not to publish any anonymous statements about anything by anyone.
I’m happy to respond to fair and civil criticism, but just as people hold me accountable, I want to hold my critics accountable as well. Only cowards hide behind false identities and untraceable email addresses.
Some commentators feel that I should have given SOVAS a chance to respond to this story. Please note that I’ve only presented information that can be found on the Charity Navigator website. If SOVAS feels that they are misrepresented, SOVAS is free to set the record straight by contacting Charity Navigator directly.
I have been blogging about the Voice Arts Awards since its inception, and not once have I been contacted by anyone involved. SOVAS has never asked me to correct any information, or presented me with new facts that would lead me to correct my information.
I will let that speak for itself.