2022 Prix d'Excellence Award Categories

In recognition of the change in delivery methods from in-person to online, virtual events and initiatives are acceptable in all applicable categories.

Category 1: Best Alumni Event

Eligibility: This category includes individual alumni events such as social or networking activities, educational alumni events, and alumni receptions. Events may be annual or one-time. Events related to fundraising or development should be submitted in Category #2.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will look for interest, attendance, volunteerism, , uniqueness, and impact on the institution.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the event, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this connects to your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 2: Best Development Event

Eligibility: This category includes one-time events or a series of activities relating to a fundraising program, such as donor recognition celebrations, gift announcements, campaign events (launches, milestones, closing events), annual fund events, and other related development-focused events.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will look for interest, attendance, volunteerism, any media coverage, uniqueness, and impact on the institution.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the event, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this connects to your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 3: Best Special Event

Eligibility: Included in this category are individual one-time special events such as open houses, building dedications, and anniversary galas aimed at various constituencies. Alumni or development events, recurring open houses, and annual events should be submitted in either Category #1 or Category #2.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will look for interest, attendance, volunteerism, any media coverage, uniqueness, and impact on the institution.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the event, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this connects to overall departmental or institutional strategic goals. 


Category 4: Best Alumni Initiative

Eligibility: Entries may include one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time. Examples include alumni strategies, communications, programs, award activities, services, benefits programs, etc.  Alumni events should be submitted in Category #1.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look for participation, uniqueness, strategic outcomes, and impact on the institution.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this connects to overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 5: Best Fundraising Initiative

Eligibility: Entries may include one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time, and can reflect fundraising at any target level, including annual, major or planned giving fundraising. Examples include annual fund strategies, proposals, solicitation communications; acquisition, renewal and cultivation programs. Fundraising events should be submitted in Category # 2; Fundraising materials should be submitted in Category #28. Annual Fund Initiatives should be submitted in Category #12. Audiences can be internal (staff, faculty, administration) or external (students, parents, community, donors) etc.

Judging Criteria

  • Judges will look for funds raised, participation, and impact on the institution.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 6: Best Donor Relations Initiative

Eligibility: Entries may be one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time, including initiatives related to donor recognition, appreciation, and stewardship; donor/accountability reporting; customer service; or other donor-focused initiatives. Donor events should be entered into Category #2. Audiences can be internal (staff, faculty, administration) or external (students, parents, community, donors) etc.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look for funds raised, participation, and impact on the institution.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals, AND where applicable judges will look for how this initiative fits within the overall donor relations strategy 


Category 7: Best Community Outreach Initiative

Eligibility: This category includes initiatives that involve internal and/or external community members in the life and work of your institution, that enhance the relationship between your institution and the community within which it resides . Examples include service-learning outreach initiatives, local collaborative fundraising drives, community literacy programs, and student/community volunteer interactions.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will look for a notable, positive increase in the relationship between your institution and the community within which it resides.
  • Judges will look for information on the community and its connection to the initiative. 
  • Where applicable include any links to departmental and institutional goals.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 8: Best Volunteer Initiative

Eligibility: New and innovative ways institutions are maximizing volunteers and their engagement within advancement initiatives and projects. Entries may be one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time, including initiatives related to advancement volunteer involvement. Volunteers can include: board members, faculty advisory boards, planning committees, alumni boards, campaign boards etc.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will look for impact on the institution.
  • Judges will look for new and innovative ways that entrants maximized the use of volunteers in meaningful and impactful ways. 
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the volunteers, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional volunteer strategies.


Category 9: Best Indigenous Relations Initiative

Eligibility: Entries can be one-time events, programs, fundraising initiatives or initiatives that take place over a period of time. This includes all events, and fundraising initiatives related to ways institutions are moving forward in their reconciliation journey.

Judging criteria:

  • Judges will look at the ways institutions involved students & community
  • Judges will look at the ways institutions involved local Indigenous community members
  • Judges will look for evidence of effective planning, innovative ideas, and conclusive evidence of success in reaching the intended audience.
  • Judges will look for how the initiative emphasized a tie-in to advancement.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reconciliation, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience and Indigenous community members, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals in relation to the indigenous community.


Category 10: Best Marketing / Communications Initiative

Eligibility: Initiatives include communications, marketing, media relations or public relations initiatives for internal or external audiences, whether one-time or recurring initiatives that demonstrate overall excellence or innovation in methods used to engage and influence external or internal constituencies.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will look for evidence of effective planning, innovative ideas, and conclusive evidence of success in engaging and influencing target
  • Judges will look for a summary of any responses by target constituents and the impact on the institution.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 11: Best Student and/or Young Alumni Initiative

Eligibility: Entries may include one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time, including student and young alumni strategies, communications, programs, award activities, services, community relations, and benefits programs. Student and young alumni events should be submitted in Category #1.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will look for evidence of effective planning that incorporates the views and preferences of students / young alumni; innovative ideas; and conclusive evidence of success including participation, uniqueness, strategic outcomes, and impact on the institution.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 12: Best Annual Giving Initiative

Eligibility: Entries may include one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time, including annual giving strategies, communications, programs, award activities, services, community relations, and benefits programs. Annual Giving Events should be submitted under Category #2.

Judging Criteria 

  • Judges will look for funds raised, participation, and impact on the institution.
  • Judges will look for evidence of effective planning and fundraising strategy.
  • The judges will also consider the amount raised, the percent of donors who gave (including new and renewed donors) and the impact of the initiative on the institution and its students.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 13: Best Advancement Services Initiative

Eligibility: Initiatives may include one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time, such as best practice in gift/data entry, prospect research, donations processing, receipting, database management, performance management, and advancement service functions specific to the institution.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look for evidence of effective planning, innovative ideas, collaboration with other units/ departments, and conclusive evidence of success, including impact on the institution.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 14: Best Use of Social Media

Eligibility: This category recognizes how advancement professionals are using social media strategies and new technologies to build constituent relationships. Examples include effective use of in publicly available platforms such as blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Tiktok, etc.; and/or the use and development of independent strategies such as promoted posts, online community building, photo contests, or new implementations.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look for information regarding ownership/authorship of the account, and a short description of the platform’s functionality and objectives.
  • Judges will look for conclusive evidence of success, including measurable engagement of target audiences, evidence of user-generated content, integration across platforms and with other sites, and impact on the institution.
  • Judges will look for project analytics as evidence of success and growth.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 15: Creativity on a Shoestring

Eligibility: This category recognizes innovative solutions / new and imaginative ideas that are modest in cost relative to your departmental budget and make the work of professionals in alumni relations, development, communications or public affairs easier or more effective. For information on what determines a shoestring budget, review the glossary of terms on pg. 21.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look for innovative ideas and conclusive evidence of success.
  • Judges will assess uniqueness and creativity in the program and implementation, and cost of the new idea relative to the departmental budget. Please review the glossary for what is considered a shoestring budget.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the initiative, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category: 16 Best Website

Eligibility: This category recognizes excellence in the development of institutional websites, internal and external sites, apps & mobile sites, micro-sites, constituent-specific portals, and interactive web services. E-mail communications should be submitted to Category #17; social media in Category #14.

Creative Material Requirement: Within your 3-page entry report, submit the url address of the website being judged and the url address of your institution’s official home page in your 3-page entry report to be used for scoring in the judging process. If applicable, please also note the ideal viewing platform for the entry. Judges will view the website at their discretion, with the instruction to review the main landing page of the website and any associated secondary pages that relate to the goal of the website.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will look at the efficacy and appropriateness of the website for the intended audience; design, creativity, and how these combine to capture the unique qualities of the institution and its brand identity.
  • Judges will assess the overall effectiveness in communicating information or a message; usability and navigation; mobile accessibility; innovation, interactivity, and design.
  • Judges will also look for a description of the process used to develop the website.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the website, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction, etc.)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals for the website.


Category 17: Best Publication (print or online) 

Eligibility: This category includes all online general and special interest newsletters, magazines, or other publications sent to alumni or other external audiences (e.g., research, fundraising, alumni, or university magazines). Reports to Donors should be entered in Category #22; and printed newsletters or flyers in Category #23.

Creative Material Requirement: Within your 3-page entry report, submit the url link for the online publication to be used for scoring in the judging process. If applicable, please also note the ideal viewing platform for the entry. For print publications, include a PDF version of the artwork file and a photo of the finished printed artwork.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will look at the writing and editing within your 3-page entry form, and the layout, design, imagery, usability and navigation of your publication. 
  • Judges will look for the information within your 3-page entry form to connect the inspiration, goals & message of the publication, and the reasons you choose the selected medium. 
  • Judges will not consider advertising revenues in the budget. 
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the publication, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction, etc.)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 18: Best Use of Multi-Media

Eligibility: Eligible initiatives include one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time. Entries may include audio files, video games, mobile apps, webcasts, podcasts, virtual reunions, virtual campus tours or testimonials, and slide or multi-media presentations, produced for fundraising, alumni relations, student recruitment, news and information, or other general promotional purposes. Videos/films should be submitted in categories 19 - 21.

Creative Material Requirement: Within your 3-page entry report, submit links to all multi-media (or secure locations where judges can download the entries) to be used for scoring in the judging process; please also note the ideal viewing platform for the entry. 

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will look for innovative ideas, content, script, photography/videography, soundtrack, editing, and conclusive evidence of success.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the project, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction, etc.)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 19: Best USE OF VIDEO/FILM (1 min or less)

Eligibility: Eligible initiatives include one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time. Entries may include videos and films of no more than 1 minute in length produced for fundraising, student recruitment, alumni relations, news and information, or other general promotional purposes. 

Creative Material Requirement: Within your 3-page entry report, submit a link to the video (or a secure location where judges can download the entry) to be used for scoring in the judging process, please also note the ideal viewing platform for the entry. Only include the direct URL to the video additional or companion videos should not be included.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look for innovative ideas, content, script, videography, soundtrack, editing, and conclusive evidence of success based on viewer engagement and the impact on the intended audience.
  • Judges will look for examples of collaboration amongst departments.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the project, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction, etc.)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 20: Best USE OF SHORT VIDEO/FILM (1-5 min)

Eligibility: Eligible initiatives include one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time. Entries may include videos and films of no more than 5 minutes in length produced for fundraising, student recruitment, alumni relations, news and information, or other general promotional purposes. 

Creative Material Requirement: Within your 3-page entry report, submit a link to the video (or a secure location where judges can download the entry) to be used for scoring in the judging process, please also note the ideal viewing platform for the entry. Only include the direct URL to the video additional or companion videos should not be included.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look for innovative ideas, content, script, videography, soundtrack, editing, and conclusive evidence of success based on viewer engagement and the impact on the intended audience.
  • Judges will look for examples of collaboration amongst departments.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the project, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction, etc.)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 21: BEST USE VIDEO/FILM (5 min or more)

Eligibility: Eligible initiatives include one-time activities or initiatives that take place over a period of time. Entries may include videos and films that are 5 - 45 minutes in length produced for fundraising, student recruitment, alumni relations, news and information, or other general promotional purposes. 

Creative Material Requirement: Within your 3-page entry report, submit a link to the video (or a secure location where judges can download the entry) to be used for scoring in the judging process, please also note the ideal viewing platform for the entry. Only include the direct URL to the video additional or companion videos should not be included.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look for innovative ideas, content, script, videography, soundtrack, editing, and conclusive evidence of success based on viewer engagement and the impact on the intended audience.
  • Judges will look for examples of collaboration amongst departments.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the project, in relation to its goal (reach, financial, engagement, satisfaction, etc.)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 22: Best Report to Donors

Eligibility:

Entries in this category may be institutional or departmental, and they may include either online or print deliveries. This award is based on excellence in concept, graphic design, layout and editorial content in communicating the institution’s sense of accountability to its donors and other key constituents.

Creative Material Requirement:

The report to donors must be submitted in digital form, whether as a url to the online version or a PDF file format of the report to be used for scoring in the judging process.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look at the writing and editing within your 3-page entry form, and the layout, design, and imagery; alignment with best practices in donor communication and stewardship; and how these all combine to capture the unique qualities of the institution.
  • Judges will look for information regarding all expenses related to design, printing, freelance photography and writing in the budget.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the report, in relation to its goal (reach, recognition, engagement, satisfaction, etc.)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 23: Best Print Brochure, Newsletter, or Flyer

Eligibility: This category is for brochures, flyers, or newsletters. Audiences for brochures, newsletters or flyers may be internal or external, and all documents should be designed to convey information in a brief, interesting and effective manner. Online editions of the above should be submitted in Category #17. 

Creative Material Requirement: The creative material must be submitted in digital form, whether in PDF file format, or as an image of the final product to be used for scoring in the judging process. Images must be clear and show the entire frame of the print material. File format for images must be jpg or png with minimum resolution 200dpi.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look at the writing and editing within your 3-page entry form, and the layout, design and imagery, and how these all combine to capture the unique qualities of the institution.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the brochure, flyer or newsletter, in relation to its goal (reach, readership, engagement, satisfaction, etc.)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 24: Best Feature Writing - English

Eligibility: This category recognizes excellence in reporting and writing for articles published in English in the 2021 calendar year. Articles may be on any topic, but must have appeared in institutional (print or online) magazines, newspapers, newsletters or other publications for internal or external audiences. This category includes feature stories, news, editorials or articles written to explain important initiatives, profile significant persons or programs, persuade or clarify complex issues.

Creative Material Requirement: Articles must be submitted in digital form, whether as a url to the online version or a PDF file format of the article to be used for scoring in the judging process. Indicate whether the author is an employee of the institution or a freelancer.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will consider writing style, organization and clarity; the complexity of the subject; and the ability of the writer to present the material in a creative and compelling manner.
  • If the author is a freelance contributor, judges will assess the impact on the departmental budget.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the article, in relation to its goal (reach, readership, engagement, satisfaction, etc.)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 25: Best Feature Writing - French

Eligibility: This category recognizes excellence in reporting and writing for articles published in French in the 2021 calendar year. Articles may be on any topic, but must have appeared in (print or online) institutional magazines, newspapers, newsletters or other publications for internal or external audiences. This category includes feature stories, news, editorials or articles written to explain important initiatives, profile significant persons or programs, persuade or clarify complex issues.

Creative Material Requirement: Articles must be submitted in digital form, whether as a url to the online version or a PDF file format of the article to be used for scoring in the judging process. Indicate whether the author is an employee of the institution or a freelancer.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will consider writing style, organization and clarity; the complexity of the subject; and the ability of the writer to present the material in a creative and compelling manner.
  • If the author is a freelance contributor, judges will assess the impact on the departmental budget.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the article, in relation to its goal (reach, readership, engagement, satisfaction, etc.)
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 26: Best Advertisement or Poster (online & print)

Eligibility: This award is given for achievement and excellence in print & digital advertisements or posters. Submissions may be a single item, or a series of ads or posters promoting a specific event, program, or other institutional initiative such as student recruitment, a grand opening, lecture series, or institutional image campaign. Ads or posters must have appeared in the 2021 calendar year.

Creative Material Requirement: Within your 3-page entry report, if a digital piece, submit the url link for the online advertisement or poster to be used for scoring in the judging process. If applicable, please also note the ideal viewing platform/channel for the entry. For print advertisements or posters, include a PDF version of the artwork file and a photo of the finished printed artwork where it was used. Please ensure resolution of print versions are at minimum 200dpi. Other file types that are accepted are jpg, png, or gif. 

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will consider appropriate use of graphics, imagery and text for the intended audience. Judges will also consider design and creativity of the end product.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the ad / poster in relation to its goal 
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.
  • If the advertisement or poster is a freelance contributor, judges will assess the impact on the departmental budget.


Category 27: Best Photograph

Eligibility: This award recognizes the best original photograph to appear in an institutional publication. Black-and-white or colour photography may be entered. Photos must have been shot in 2020 or 2021, and published in 2021. Judges will evaluate uniqueness, technical quality, and creativity. Please showcase how the selected image relates to institutional objectives & goals. 

Creative Material Requirement: Please submit a digital copy of the photograph. Images must be clear and show the entire frame of the photo. File format for images must be jpg or png with minimum resolution 200dpi. Indicate whether the photographer is an employee of the institution or a freelancer.

Judging Criteria:

  • Judges will evaluate composition, technical quality, appropriateness for stated goals, and creativity.
  • If the photographer is a freelance contributor, judges will assess the impact on the departmental budget
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success of the image in relation to the associated cost of the image (ex. Licensing, photographer fees, etc.) AND it’s relation to your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.


Category 28: Best Fundraising Materials

Eligibility: This category recognizes excellence in fundraising materials designed to attract support for major institutional fundraising initiatives such as a capital, anniversary, annual or research campaign.

Creative Material Requirement: The creative material must be submitted in digital form, whether as an image of the final product or a PDF format to be used for scoring in the judging process. Images must be clear and show the entire frame of the creative material. File format for images must be jpg or png with minimum resolution 200dpi. If creative materials are 3 dimensional or unique in design, please provide a photo of the final product as well as a PDF of the original artwork file. For videos or online items please provide a URL link to these assets.

Judging Criteria: 

  • Judges will look for clarity in fundraising goals; the writing, design, structure and imagery of the materials; and how these all combine to capture the unique qualities of the institution, raise funds and/or build relationships with donors.
  • Judges require a clear demonstration of both qualitative & quantitative metrics to determine the success and impact of the materials, in relation to its goal.
  • Judges will look for a successful connection to the audience, and how this mirrors your overall departmental or institutional strategic goals.