SUNY CUAD - STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK COUNCIL FOR UNIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT | Categories
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Categories

Excellence in Strategy

The Excellence in Strategy categories encompass methods in which your institution has performed strategic planning, execution of projects, allocation of resources, measurable key performance indicators (KPI), and modification of plans due to unique circumstances. Award applications are judged based on criteria most relevant to demonstrating outstanding strategic thinking, planning, and preparation.

Alumni Relations

Submissions must represent a project or initiative within alumni relations, serving as a benchmark for other institutions. Entries should showcase an effective resolution to a challenge, strategic resource utilization, notable outcomes, creativity, and innovation. You will present a narrative to help illustrate your success and provide documentation with supporting data to show growth and continued impact. Note: Alumni Events should be entered into the Special Events category.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Alumni Engagement Platform Enhancements
  • Annual Giving Campaigns
  • Alumni Mentorship Programs

Annual Giving

Annual Giving submissions include projects focused on strategic efforts to secure yearly gifts ranging from $1 to $5,000. Your entry should demonstrate excellence by presenting methods of identifying and targeting potential donors and implementing effective annual appeals, strategic outreach, and donor engagement. Criteria for success include innovation, engagement, and measurable impact. In your submission, please include promotional materials and outreach examples to support your strategic narrative. Note: Giving Day campaigns should be entered in the Strategy – Fundraising Campaigns category.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Annual Appeals
  • Donor Outreach Campaigns
  • Fundraising Efforts
  • Annual Gift Correspondences

Communications

Submissions should include a comprehensive communications campaign that spans multiple channels on print and digital platforms. Successful entries will exhibit influence over people’s perceptions, attitudes, and emotions with the objective of fostering awareness. Your campaign may target a specific or widespread group of internal or external audiences. While the initiative may be part of a broader, multi-channel campaign, you are asked to highlight a specific communications strategy and the implementation results for your entry. Note: Large-scale, multi-channel campaigns should be entered in the Excellence in Strategy: Marketing category.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Student Resources Communications
  • Mental Health and Wellness Awareness Communications
  • Alumni Highlights and Announcements
  • Parent Targeted Communications

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In this submission, you are asked to describe any strategic initiatives that target Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in marketing, communications, student engagement, or advancement. Your entry should highlight projects demonstrating a commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive community through strategic outreach, engagement, or access. Successful entries will include comprehensive testimonials, strategic plans, data analysis, and other relevant documents communicating how DEI initiatives positively influence the college environment and explain the unique needs of diverse constituents.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Diverse Student Recruitment Campaigns
  • Equity in Advancement Fundraising
  • Faculty and Staff Diversity Recruitment
  • Cultural Competency Trainings
  • Accessibility Initiatives

Donor Relations and Stewardship

Submissions should showcase outstanding strategies for cultivating meaningful relationships with donors and implementing effective stewardship strategies. The criteria for success include innovation, personalized engagement, and measurable impact on donor retention and satisfaction. Your entry should provide documents exhibiting personalized donor engagement, effective stewardship, and innovative practices. You will be judged based on impact, success measurement, and sustainability of relationships. Note: Donor recognition events should be entered in the Special Events category.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Impact Reports
  • Donor Appreciation Campaigns
  • Donor Spotlights or Highlights

Fundraising Campaigns

Submissions should document exceptional achievements of college advancement professionals in the planning, execution, and sustained success of multi-year campaigns. Your entry should showcase strategic vision, innovation, and practical implementation throughout the campaign. The criteria for success will be judged on measurable impact, donor engagement, and the campaign’s contribution to advancing the institution’s mission and goals. You are asked to provide documentation on the campaign’s strategic vision, donor engagement, measurable impact, resource allocation, and sustainability.

This award has several subcategories:

  • Multi-Year Campaigns (Up to $10 million campaign goal)
  • Multi-Year Campaigns ($10 – $100 million campaign goal)
  • Multi-Year Campaigns (Over $100 million campaign goal)
  • Flash or Giving Day Campaigns

Marketing

In your submission, you are asked to provide details on marketing strategies that include online advertising, direct mail, broadcast, branding, or websites. All entries in this category should outline a successful initiative aimed at highlighting a measurable call to action. Your entry should focus on two or more online or print platforms. Marketing creatives may incorporate a video component or use static images and messages. You are asked to submit all related creative materials created to market your strategic centralized theme. Note: Individual creative work–commercials, advertisements, and websites–may be entered in the Excellence in Creativity category. Note: Campaigns designed to fundraise should be entered in the Fundraising Campaign category.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Enrollment Campaigns
  • Rebranding and Website Design
  • Registration Campaigns
  • Video Series Campaigns

Social Media

Submissions should exhibit exceptional creativity, engagement, and alignment with a central theme. Entries should demonstrate proficiency along a single or multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (X), LinkedIn, SnapChat, TikTok, YouTube, or other social media platforms. You are asked to submit comprehensive documentation supporting your social media strategy, including analytics, screenshots, links to posts, and other relevant materials demonstrating the campaign’s excellence in engagement and achievement of objectives.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Alumni Engagement Challenges
  • Social Media Giveaways
  • Student Ambassador Takeovers
  • Student/Staff/Faculty Highlight Series

Special Events

The Special Events category acknowledges noteworthy and impactful single or series events aimed at both internal and external audiences. Your submission should encompass the comprehensive strategy behind execution, engagement, outcomes, and resource utilization. These special events may take place in person or virtual spaces, catering to diverse audience preferences.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Donor Recognition Events
  • Alumni Events
  • Inaugurations
  • Grand Openings or Facilities Unveilings

Excellence in Creativity

Creative categories address the design and craftsmanship of tangible and digital assets. Award applications are judged based on innovation and originality, aesthetics and design, effective use of budget towards available resources, and success or improvement relative to previous creative works.

Links to awards applications are included under each category.

Excellence in Design

Advertising

Submissions should promote the college as a whole or a unique event. Ads may use static images and messages, compelling design, and typography. Judges will gauge effectiveness, content, quality, and budget. Multiple ads surrounding a documented and specified theme or topic should be entered in the Excellence in Strategy – Marketing category. Television or YouTube ads are not considered and should be included in the Video category.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Radio advertisement promoting off-term courses.
  • Billboard or other large outdoor display.
  • Print advertisement designed for a newspaper or magazine.

Magazine or Periodical

Submissions should consist of a single edition of a recurring magazine that will be evaluated based exclusively on overall design. Criteria include typography, organization, presentation, and use of photography and illustrations. Please provide supplementary documentation acknowledging the target audiences, content, writing, layout, design, effective use of budget, project sustainability, and impact. Judges will also evaluate entries based on the supporting materials, reader experience, and overcoming challenges.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Alumni magazine
  • Annual college publication
  • A health, medical, or research magazine

Single-page Publication

Submissions should consist of a single-page document or promotional publication that exemplify quality in design and execution. Judging criteria include understanding target audiences, creativity, innovation, content and writing, layout and design, typography, effective use of budget and resources, and impact and results. Entries may have multiple folds and cuts.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Poster
  • Flyer
  • Die-cut search piece

Multi-page publication

Submissions should demonstrate understanding of target audiences, concept, creativity, content and writing, layout and design, typography, photography and illustrations, effective use of budget and resources, and impact and results.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Annual report
  • Viewbook and prospectus
  • Promotional publication

Logo

Submissions should be new or newly interpreted unique logos, emblems, or wordmarks used by an institution, campus department, or school-affiliated organization. Criteria include concept and creativity, layout and design, typography, and impact and results. Please include all relevant design-related information with the nomination package. Note: Web graphics used in online advertisements should be entered in the Excellence in Creativity: Advertising category.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Athletics or Institutional Logo Redesign
  • Educational Program Logo Creation
  • Academic School or Departmental Emblem
  • Affiliated Student Organization Wordmark

Excellence in Photography

Individual Photograph

Submissions should consist of an outstanding single photograph captured by a SUNY employee. The photograph must have appeared in an institutional publication or project, outside professional publication (newspaper, website, or magazine), or have been used for an institutional purpose such as an exhibition or advertising. Judges will consider the image’s relevance to a story or concept, composition, creativity, effectiveness, and technical quality. Black-and-white or color photographs will be considered for the award. Photo illustrations or mixed media will not be considered.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Breaking news image
  • Scenic campus photograph
  • Action in education documentary photography
  • Individual or group portrait

Photo Series

Submissions should reflect an outstanding series or collection of two to seven photos surrounding a central theme, event, or premise. The photographs must have appeared in an institutional publication or project, outside professional publication (newspaper, website, or magazine), or have been used for an institutional purpose such as an exhibition or advertising. Black-and-white or color photographs may be entered. Judges will consider the image’s relevance to a story or concept, composition, creativity, effectiveness, and technical quality.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Special event photos used in a newsletter, college magazine, or recruiting publication.
  • Student life photos used by a college admissions office.
  • Alumni portraits are used in an annual magazine.
  • A collection of photos showcasing a specific academic program or departmental undertaking.

Excellence in Video

Submissions will include video production and distribution that advances or promotes the institution, program, service, or initiative. All creatives entered must be made by SUNY employees. Videos can also serve the purpose of positioning the college or highlighting a specific facet of the institution. Videos can be created for an event designed for web and online distribution. Judges will consider goals and objectives, concept and creativity, technical execution, budget (including people and time), impact or results, and return on investment.

This category has multiple subcategories:

  • Less than 1 minute
  • 1 – 5 minutes
  • More than 5 minutes

Excellence in Websites

Submissions should encompass a complete website, individually unique page, or microsite for an institution or a comparable site for a significant component of the institution (like a school within a university or college). All sites must be publicly accessible without password protection. Judges will consider goals and objectives, concept and creativity, technical execution, budget (including people and time), impact or results, and return on investment.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • A homepage redesign emphasizing integrated and prominent photography or video.
  • Responsive webpage designed around an annual report or unique offering.
  • Specifically, a branded webpage to highlight a school or smaller segment of the overall institution.

Excellence in Writing

Feature Writing

Submissions reflect excellence in a single article, focusing on a trend, current issue, or topic of interest. There are no length restrictions for this category. The entry must have been initially published in an institutional publication (print or online).

News Writing

Submissions reflect outstanding news writing. Acceptable entries include but are not limited to news releases, op-ed articles, or other forms of writing that are designed to appear in external publications.

Research Writing

Submissions should consist of an article or news release focusing on research, scientific advancement, technological innovation, advanced engineering, artistic mastery, new business-related findings, or exploration within the social sciences. All entries must be published by at least one outside entity or appear in a college magazine or online source.

Judges will consider:

  • Concept, creativity, and clarity of written works.
  • Research, reporting, and editing.
  • Audience engagement.
  • Resources, outcomes, and documented results.