Circle of Excellence Fact Sheet


The Circle of Excellence awards program recognizes outstanding work in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing at CASE member institutions worldwide. They are judged by peer professionals at schools, colleges and universities as well as by professionals from outside education.


Winners are selected based on a number of factors, including overall quality, innovation, use of resources and the impact on the institution or its external and internal communities, such as alumni, parents, students and faculty and staff. The Circle of Excellence awards program is open to professionals working at member colleges, universities, independent schools and their affiliated nonprofits around the world.


CASE assembles expert judging panels made up of professionals in the fields of advancement services, alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing. One or more panels are convened for each of the nearly 100 categories, which cover areas of alumni relations programs, fundraising programs, institutional relations, new media, advancement services, institutional marketing, magazines and publications and design.

Gold, silver and bronze awards may be given in each category. Judges have the option of giving no awards, and they may also recognize exceptional entries with a grand gold award.

2018 marks the fourth year of the CASE Platinum Categories, a collaboration between CASE, its regional offices and its eight North American districts. CASE members enter the Platinum Categories through their region or district's awards program. Each region and district conducts the first round of judging and selects up to two entries per Platinum Category. Finalists from CASE Europe, CASE Asia-Pacific and all eight districts are then judged in an international second round to determine Platinum Winners.

Judging is completed in the spring with winning institutions revealed in June. An exhibition of grand gold winners is on display each July at CASE's Summit for Leaders in Advancement. Award winners are also recognized at the CASE-NAIS Independent Schools Conference in January, the CASE Europe Annual Conference in late August and at the annual CASE Asia-Pacific Conference in March.


In 2017, CASE received more than 3,364 entries for consideration in nearly 100 categories by more than 715 member higher education institutions, independent schools and nonprofits from around the world. Judges gave 366 awards: 118 bronze; 125 silver, 107 gold and 16 grand gold.

CASE Europe, CASE Asia-Pacific and district judges recognized 50 entries as Platinum finalists, with international panels selecting six entries as Platinum Winners.


Made up of several of CASE's long-time recognition programs, the Circle of Excellence awards program, in its present configuration, was introduced in 1994. Each year, it has grown in prestige and is now one of CASE's most popular and respected awards programs. Participation in the 2017 program was at the highest level on record.

About CASE

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is one of the largest international associations of education institutions, serving more than 3,670 universities, colleges, schools and related organizations in more than 82 countries. CASE is the leading resource for professional development, information and standards in the fields of education fundraising, communications, marketing and alumni relations.

Media Kit

Download the 2017 COE Media Kit.