Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Educational Fundraising Awards?

The Educational Fundraising Awards program honors exemplary development operations at U.S. educational institutions. This is an annual program in which awards are given for excellence in fundraising.

I didn't know we entered this awards program. How did we win?

Institutions do not apply for this program; it is data-driven. Institutions become eligible for consideration for the award upon submission of data to the Council for Aid to Education's Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey for three or more consecutive years.

For 2016, 950 higher education institutions participated in the VSE survey. An independent data analyst narrowed the field to 496 institutions. 125 independent schools participated in the VSE survey. An independent data analyst narrowed the field to 58 institutions.

How was my institution judged?

Colleges and universities are judged separately from independent, K-12 schools. CASE convenes two distinct judging panels to select winners. Judges are culled from the ranks of senior development professionals and CASE volunteers and represent a wide array of institutional experience. Institutions are grouped and judged in categories—roughly based on Carnegie Classifications and endowment size. Judging is blind and data-driven.

Judges select winners based on a multitude of factors: the pattern of growth in total support; evaluation of what contributed to the total support figure; overall breadth in program areas; pattern of growth in each program area; pattern of donor growth among alumni/ae donors and other individual donors; impact of the 12 largest gifts on total support; total support in relation to the alumni/ae base; and the type of institution.

Who else won?

For 2016, out of 496 colleges and universities considered, 89 higher education institutions won an overall performance or overall improvement award. Out of 58 independent schools considered, 12 schools won an award for excellence.

What is a Sustained Excellence Award?

Institutions that have been recognized with an overall performance, overall improvement or award for excellence (independent schools) in three out of the past five years automatically receive a Sustained Excellence Award. Sustained Excellence Awards recognize institutions that have demonstrated consistent fundraising success over a five year period.

If you have further questions, please contact Brian Flahaven, director of legislative, foundation and recognition programs, at or 202-478-5617.