FAQ: Circle of Excellence

Who is eligible to participate and what can my institution submit?

Only advancement professionals working at CASE member educational institutions or nonprofits affiliated with nonprofit educational institutions (ex. university foundations or alumni associations) may enter the Circle of Excellence Awards program. Educational partners, Educational Associates, consultants and freelancers are not eligible unless they partner with the member institution for which the work was produced. The CASE member institution must submit the entry.

You may enter as many categories as you wish. You may also submit more than one entry per category or enter the same work in multiple categories. 

CASE District awards competitions are separate from the Circle of Excellence Awards. Materials entered in your district competition can also be entered in this program.

What materials are eligible for entry?

Unless stated otherwise in the category description, eligible materials must have been produced between Jan. 1, 2018 and Dec. 31, 2018. Ongoing programs are not subject to these date restrictions.

How do I enter if I am not already in the CASE database?

Visit the Create a New Account page to determine if a current record exists for you. If a record does exist, an email containing your password will be sent to the email address on record. If no record is located, you will be prompted to create an account.

If you need immediate assistance, contact the CASE Member Support Center at +1-202-328-2273 or visit the member support center for more information. You can also email any questions to

How do I pay for my entries?

Once you've completed your online entry form, you will be able to pay the entry fee. Entries must be paid for online using a credit card. The fee is $110 per entry.

Can I start a nomination and return to edit it later?

Yes. Throughout the online entry process, you have the ability to save your entry as a draft and return later. Please be sure to save your work as you go. When you login, you will find the draft/s saved under "My Award Nominations"  or you can directly access started entries by clicking here. You can also start a new entry by going to the desired category page.

Learn how to access your draft nominations here.

When you are ready to submit your entry, you must click the "Submit Final" button at the bottom of the Entry Preview page. Note that you will no longer be able to edit your entry once you click "Submit Final."

I'm getting an error message--what do I do?

You are not properly connected to your institution in our system if you:

  • see the option to choose between "self nomination" or "nominate someone else"
  • receive this message: 'A critical error has occurred, Object reference not set to an instance of an object.'

Please contact the, explain that you have received this message and indicate your institution name.

I'm having difficulty uploading documents.

You should be able to upload most file types (docs, jpegs, excel, etc.). The file size limit is 50 MB. If your file is larger than 50 MB, you may need to reduce the size of the file or split it into multiple files. Please do not use any special characters ($%&*'#, etc.) when naming your files. The system will not accept these files.

Can I re-enter materials that have already received recognition in the Circle of Excellence Awards program?

No. Once a program or project has been recognized as a model program, it cannot be re-entered unless significant changes have been made to the original program. Materials that have been recognized at CASE District level programs may be entered in the Circle of Excellence Awards program.

Can I enter a Non-English program to the Circle of Excellence Awards program?

Yes, CASE welcomes entries in other languages besides English in some categories. While entry questions must be completed in English to facilitate judging, entry materials written in languages other than English are eligible for recognition as long as such materials are accompanied by brief explanations written in English.

Click here for a full list of Non-English eligible categories.

The deadline is March 1. Does this mean my entry may be postmarked by that date?

All entries must be submitted online by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on Friday, March 1, 2019. If a category also requires entrants to mail materials, the mailed materials will be eligible as long as they are postmarked by Friday, March 1, and arrive at the appropriate host location by Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Late entries may be disqualified. Be sure to give your entries ample time to arrive at the judging locations. Packages sent by overnight couriers from international locations outside of the United States can take up to a week to arrive.

What awards are offered?

Circle of Excellence judges grant awards at four levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Grand Gold. Grand Gold awards are reserved for entries that are clearly preeminent and/or "game changing" among gold-level winners in each category. To ensure that winners represent exceptional work, CASE does not require judges to award winners in every level for every category.

How many copies of my entry do I need to send to the judging location?

You need to send only one copy of all mailed materials unless the entry instructions in your category indicate otherwise.

Will I be notified when my entry materials were received by the host judging institution?

No. Due to the volume of entries, hosts are not able to provide this service. As long as you have successfully submitted your entry online there is no need to worry--hosts will reconcile mailed materials with entries submitted online.

Will my entry be returned?

No, entries will not be returned. All entries become the property of CASE. Please do not send any irreplaceable materials.

Who are the judges?

Judging panels are comprised of volunteer advancement professionals and experts from CASE member institutions and from outside of the education field such as consultants, journalists and freelancers. All judges are experienced in the field being judged and understand the complexities and challenges therein.

If my institution is a winner, how and when will we be notified?

Judging sessions take place between March and April. CASE will announce all 2019 Circle of Excellence Award winners online on June 12. Winners will be sent their award certificates by mail. Please be aware that the certificates will be mailed to the individual who submitted the winning entry.

Will I receive an individual critique of my work?

Because of the large number of entries and the time limitations of our volunteer judges, CASE cannot offer individual critiques of entries. Each judging panel is asked to produce a judges' report describing the strengths and weaknesses of the category and why the panel chose particular entries for recognition. These reports will be posted to the CASE website.

What are the Platinum Categories? 

The Platinum Categories are a collaboration between CASE's North American districts and regional offices (CASE Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin-America). CASE members enter these categories at the district or regional levels. The districts/regions conduct the first round of judging, forwarding finalists to compete in a second round of judging at the international level. For more information on the Platinum Categories, click here.

Note that while the entry period for 2018-19 Platinum Categories is now closed for CASE districts, CASE Asia-Pacific, Europe and Latin America members can enter the Platinum Categories through March 1, 2019. Entry information is available on the CASE Asia Pacific, CASE Europe and CASE Latin America websites.

What recognition do winners receive?

Grand Gold winners:

  • Are showcased at CASE's Summit for Leaders in Advancement in July
  • Receive recognition in Currents magazine
  • Are recognized in the CASE Circle of Excellence Awards press release

All winners:

  • Receive certificates of achievement
  • Listed on the CASE website

In addition, winners may have their materials showcased at CASE conferences and in CASE communications, made available through the CASE Library, or posted online.

I would like to judge a category next year. Who should I contact?

CASE is always looking for new volunteers to judge awards. If you would like to help out, please send an email to and indicate which category(ies) you would like to judge.

How can I get publicity for my winning entry?

While CASE does not send out individualized news releases for the Circle of Excellence awards, we do put together a media kit with statistics and helpful hints on how to garner publicity for your institution. CASE makes all program statistics available by June. The media kit has several useful templates to help you develop news releases and other press materials for use year round.

Visit the member support center for more information.