• 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 2021 CSAE Awards of Distinction and allow us to celebrate your excellence!

    The CSAE Awards of Distinction: A Celebration of Excellence

    • The focus is on the five 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.


    Programs/projects that demonstrated successful results between January 2019 and the day of submission are eligible. If a long-term strategy was developed prior to January 2019 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 five competency areas of the Competencies for Association Executives and 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: Optimize GovernanceEnsure effective and efficient governance structure
    Contribute to the effectiveness of the board and committees
    Lead development of a strategic plan
    Advise the board on issues requiring their input
    Develop a risk management strategy

    Examples could include: board orientation programs, creation of a new strategic plan, managing a governance review, managing a strategic planning process with member and community engagement, an engagement process to create a new vision for an organization.
    Category 2: Establish DirectionAnalyse current financial state of the organization
    Develop a long-term business strategy
    Develop annual business plan
    Develop and maintain brand reputation
    Develop partnerships to achieve organization objectives

    Examples could include: creation of a new annual operating/business planning process, a government relations or public education campaign, management of a major external issue or crisis, launch of a new partnership.
    Category 3: Lead PeopleEvaluate human resource requirements
    Recruit staff and volunteers
    Onboard staff and volunteers
    Establish staff and volunteer codes of conduct
    Manage individual performance
    Manage teams
    Manage change
    Conduct ongoing personal leadership development

    Examples could include: implementation of a new staff performance review program, creation of a new learning program for association staff, launch of a new HR program that supports strategic goals, recruitment and orientation of a new executive director.
    Category 4: Manage OperationsManage day-to-day financials
    Manage an annual external financial audit or review engagement
    Manage facilities
    Manage equipment
    Manage technology
    Develop operational practices

    Examples could include: research and implementation of new software system, building of a new facility, resolution of legal issue, or implementation of a new website, AMS or other technology.
    Category 5: Deliver ValueCollect evidence-based data
    Identify needs of segments
    Conduct continuous improvement of organizational offerings

    Examples could include: a social media campaign, capital fundraising campaign, new member orientation event, launch of a training program, product/service marketing campaigns, management of educational/training programs, creation of a new program/product/service, member research projects, member segmentation strategies/structures.

    Note: Only two (2) submissions per organization can be entered. Entrants may submit their entries in the same category and/or across multiple categories provided that the work plan is tailored to fit the category description.

    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 the resource submission guide and resource submission quick list.
    3. Complete the video presentation using this slide deck template
    4. Pull together digital versions of your supplemental materials that best showcase the project and are proof-points for your video presentation. These can include: website or blog screen shots, publications, advertisements, speeches, sample media articles, training materials etc. If applicable, include the relevant URLs and/or passwords for websites or other online platforms within your work plan or supplemental materials for judges to view live at judging time. Note: there is no limit on the number of supplemental materials, but less is more. Think 1-6 per entry maximum.
    5. Review the Marks of a Winner evaluation guidelines to better understand what judges are looking for in each section and how to score extra marks.
    6. Submit the video presentation and supplemental materials here by September 13th, 2021.


    The confidential selection process is conducted by independent CSAE volunteers and their decision is final.

    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 info@csae.com to find out more.

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