CSAE Awards of Distinction

Call for Entries

Is your team's work worthy of recognition?

You've amazed and astonished your members with creatively conceived and brilliantly executed programs, products or services. Now it's time to extend your recognition to the national stage where the CSAE community is ready to laud and applaud you. Stand up and be recognized! Enter your project, initiative, partnership, promotion or campaign in the 2017 CSAE Awards of Distinction and allow us to celebrate your excellence!

The 2017 CSAE Awards of Distinction: A Celebration of Excellence

  • The focus is on the six competency domains of the Certified Association Executive (CAE ®) program -- a long-term goal for all association professionals.
  • There's a chance to celebrate the excellent leadership, structure and governance of your association; and/or the planning and execution of internal, external and integrated programs that serve your members and/or engage external stakeholders and volunteers.
  • There are additional and expanded categories.
  • All entries will be judged against a standard of established criteria vs. against each other. This means there can be multiple winners in any category.
  • Associations or projects with small budgets are not judged against large associations or budgets. Every entry has an equal chance to be recognized with a CSAE Award of Distinction.

On this page:

Awards Webinar

Not sure if your entry qualifies? Have questions about the submission process? Join the 2017 CSAE Awards Webinar for more information including everything you need to understand to submit a winning entry. View the webinar recording now!


Programs/projects that demonstrated successful results between January 2016 and the day of submission are eligible. If a long-term strategy was developed prior to January 2016 but a major milestone or measurement took place during the eligibility period, it is eligible for entry. The organization submitting must have at least one current CSAE member on staff.


The categories focus on the six competency domains of the Certified Association Executive (CAE®) program. This means there's a category for every project -- so there's no excuse for not entering your best work. And, your award submission can serve as a stepping stone for the CAE course requirements.

Category 1: Association Leadership

Programs or strategies that help staff or volunteer leaders be more effective, improve the quality of leadership within the organization or improve leader knowledge and ability to use values & vision, teamwork, facilitation, continuous learning, conceptual skills, ethics, creativity and/or flexibility. It also includes organizational leadership in educating and influencing policymakers, regulators or the public resulting in increased consumer or stakeholder confidence or support for your organization and its members.

Examples could include: board orientation programs, recruitment and orientation of a new executive director, creation of a new association or working group for a specific project, creation of a new learning program for association staff, an engagement process to create a new vision for an organization. Other examples include a government relations or public education campaign.

Category 2: Structure & Environment

Programs or strategies that focus on tracking and managing trends & issues, governance structure and management, policy & bylaw development, review or amendments, developing/managing volunteers, recruiting and managing staff.

Examples could include: management of a major external issue or crisis, managing a governance review, gaining membership support for bylaw changes, creation/revision of volunteer structures, launch of a new HR program that supports strategic goals, the implementation of significant guidance documents or training programs that raise the standard of your industry or profession

Category 3: Direction & Strategy

Programs or strategies that focus on developing and managing a strategic planning process, planning and managing operational or business plans, including resource management and monitoring/evaluation, creation or management of best practice reporting & accountability practices, and management of an association's knowledge base.

Examples could include: managing a strategic planning process with member and community engagement, creation of a new annual operating/business planning process, creation and dissemination of best-practice information to members to support the application of new skills and the development of a competitive workforce.

Category 4: Member Services

Programs or skills focused on member research, engaging members, communicating and/or marketing with/to members, recruitment & retention of members, products or services offered to members, measuring member satisfaction.

Examples could include: product/service marketing campaigns, management of educational/training programs, creation of a new program/product/service, member research projects, member segmentation strategies/structures.

Category 5: Operations Support

Programs or skills focused on human resources, technical or other systems, financial accounting and management, the management of facilities or equipment, legal, insurance or tax issues, external communications and relations, public information, and continuous improvement initiatives.

Examples could include: implementation of a new staff performance review program, research and implementation of new software system, building of a new facility, resolution of legal issue or implementation of a new website

Category 6: Products & Services

Programs or skills focused on communication/marketing tools (print, or social media, media relations), internal or external events, educational or training programs, internal or external advocacy efforts, fundraising campaigns, credentialing programs, other programs, and strategic alliances & partnerships

Examples could include: a social media campaign, capital fundraising campaign, new member orientation event, launch of a training program, or a government relations advocacy campaign

Note: Entrants may submit multiple entries in the same category and/or across multiple categories provided that the work plan is tailored to fit the category description. You may submit as many entries as you wish.

How to Enter

  1. Think of all the great projects you've successfully completed within the eligible time frame. Pick the best ones that might be unique, and/or include robust measurement of your success. Or, think about ongoing programs with a real track record, or initiatives other associations can learn from, or ones you're most proud of.
  2. Carefully review and prepare the 2017 CSAE Awards of Distinction Application Requirements.
  3. Complete the work plan -- keep it to four typed pages -- convert it to a PDF. View the sample work plan.
  4. Pull together digital versions of your supplemental materials that best showcase the project and are proof-points for your work plan. Check your work against the judging criteria.
  5. Submit the work plan, supplemental materials, plus the 'victory' materials online before July 17, 2017. Please do not mail any materials.

Judges / Evaluators Needed

If you're a member with your CAE certification and/or a senior member looking to give back to your profession and association, why not become an evaluator for this new awards program? It's a chance to network with other senior members, to look behind-the-scenes at work of your colleagues, and to share your wisdom and experience to elevate the work of your colleagues. Interested individuals should contact awards@csae.com to find out more.

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