Eight Best Practices from 2019 Platinum Awards Winners
A powerful health education project. A mission to reimagine gift tables. An ambitious fundraising campaign.
This year’s eight Platinum Awards recipients took on groundbreaking initiatives to strengthen their institutions and advance education. Their work in communications, diversity programs, and more serves as the best-of-the-best programs and practices in educational advancement globally.
Here are eight takeaways from these global recipients.
In storytelling, find the universal experiences that resonate.
Judges unanimously selected “Out of the Shadows” for the 2019 Platinum Awards Article of the Year. This beautifully written, highly informative article in the University of Alberta’s New Trail magazine explored the process of caring for someone with dementia.
“The best thing,” wrote judges, “was the story’s universality. We could all relate to having to deal with dementia, either personally or as caregivers, in the near or distant future.”
Make your online experiences as powerful as in-person ones.
The University of California–Los Angeles transformed a traditional on-campus celebration into an engaging online experience. Its Alumni Day Online (winner of the Platinum Award for Best Practices in Alumni Relations) engaged its entire community of alumni, parents, friends, and fans around the world with discussions, music playlists, quizzes, trivia, and more.
“UCLA hit this out of the park,” wrote judges. “This takes online engagement to a new level.”
Capture the emotion and action of campus life.
For the Platinum Excellence in Photography Award, judges selected the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Association of Graduates. Its rich photos by Ryan Hall offer emotion, action, and storytelling. The portfolio took powerful subjects—the grit, grime, and feeling of accomplishment that comes from training to become an officer—and presented them in interesting, powerful ways.
“We liked the mix of portraits, action, and landscapes to show the story of what life is like at the school,” reported judges.
Forge partnerships to address community needs.
Heart 2 Heart was a collaboration between Loughborough University, the Loughborough Students’ Union, and the British Heart Foundation to address cardiac health awareness. The campaign, selected for the Platinum Award for Best Practices in Communications and Marketing, bridged the region’s knowledge gap and aimed to save lives with creative, thoughtful outreach—including Valentine’s Day messages and couples training.
“The campaign showcases the university as an engaged public citizen and articulates the value of research about community needs and public health,” wrote judges. “The impact will undoubtedly be long lasting."
Use past data to drive future goals.
Tasked with creating a new campaign planning pyramid, Ohio State University dug into historical data and prospect behavior. The tool it created allows its leaders to evaluate various campaign scenarios. Judges awarded it a Platinum Award for Advancement Services. Using past data to support the strategic need to determine realistic gift tables was key.
“It’s impressive how broad the involvement was in the process,” reported judges. “Achieving leadership support was a home run.”
In community engagement, be intentional and culturally aware.
To engage its indigenous community, the University of Calgary launched a program with more than 2,220 points of community engagement. The name for it, “ii’ taa’ poh’ to’p,” was bestowed by a Kanai tribe elder. The 20-month campaign, selected as a Platinum Award for Diversity Program winner, involved story gathering, a cultural celebration, and public launch.
“UCalgary was clearly intentional in understanding and respecting the native culture and practices as demonstrated in the documentation,” wrote judges.
The University of Sydney’s INSPIRED campaign had ambitious goals. It aimed to take the university to new heights with fundraising, but also demonstrate that philanthropy at that level was possible for an Australian university. It invested in all levels of the giving pyramid and launched a research-focused giving day.
Its work paid off, and the campaign was awarded a Platinum Award for Best Practices in Fundraising.
“The University of Sydney created an amazing landmark campaign which exceeded all expectations by doubling goals, even with a reduced timeline,” wrote judges.
Understand your user experience.
Ohio State University created an intentional digital strategy to keep its audience engaged on its website. The approach netted the university a Platinum Award for Digital Communications.
The strategy, judges say, sets a high bar for digital communications. OSU sends emails and automatic triggers to users who have not engaged with the site in months to share content that might interest them. The content itself is thoughtful and interesting.
“OSU did a wonderful job of pushing stories that are based on the reader's interest,” wrote judges. “Overall, this was an impressive site with clean design, and the committee could not help but dig more and more into the content.”
Learn more about these Platinum Awards winners.
About the Platinum Awards
This year marks the fifth year of CASE’s Platinum Awards, a collaboration between CASE's regional offices and its eight North American districts.
CASE members enter the Platinum Awards 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 Awards winners.
About the author(s)
Meredith Barnett is the manager, digital communications at CASE.