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 2020 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.

Awards Webinar

Not sure if your entry qualifies? Have questions about the submission process? View the 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 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 an 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

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 Organization DirectionDevelop a long-term financial strategy
Develop and manage an annual operation plan
Develop and manage an annual budget
Develop and maintain brand and reputation
Develop partnerships to achieve organization objectives
Develop and manage a risk management model

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: Manage PeopleManage human resource requirements
Recruit and onboard staff and volunteers
Build a positive staff and volunteer culture
Manage individual performance
Foster collaboration and innovation
Manage change

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 an annual financial audit or review
Manage facilities and equipment
Manage information and communications technology
Develop operational processes, policies and procedures
Manage documentation

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 Value to Member and Stakeholder SegmentsThink beyond membership
Identify needs of member and stakeholder segments
Ensure appropriate mix of products and services
Establish and support growth targets

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: 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 2020 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. 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 to find out more.

Our Partners

Our partners are best in class companies that deliver quality products and/or services to the association sector – click below to see for yourself!