The five original cultural categories in 2007 were 1) Children's Stories, 2) Nakba-Commemoration Poster, 3) Oral History, 4) Research Essay, and 5) Documentary Film. In the second year, 2008, the Written Journalism category was also added. In 2009, and based on the recommendation of participants and jury members, Badil decided to suspend the oral history and documentary film categories, replacing them with a category for photographs taken by children (persons below the age of 18) in order to encourage the participation of children in the Award competition.
Every year, winners are selected by independent juries that include specialists in each field. General rules and regulations governing the Award are that all written entries must be submitted in the Arabic language; participants can participate in more than one of the competition categories but are not permitted to make more than one submission within a single competition category; and members of Badil's staff, board of directors, oversight committee, or juries are excluded from participation. Badil reserves its right to use, edit, and/or publish any and all materials submitted at its discretion.
At the Annual Al-Awda Award Ceremony winners receive monetary prizes before large audiences, and up to seven participants in each honorable mention prizes are granted within each category. The ceremony is often broadcast live over Arab satellite stations. Traditionally, the winning entry in the Nakba-Commemoration Poster category is adopted by the National Nakba Commemoration Committee as the Nakba commemoration poster and produced on a large scale. Winners in the categories of children's stories, research papers, and written journalism are published by Badil in Haq Al-Awda, Badil's Arabic language newspaper issued around six-times each year, and as separate books.