SimpleCert® News

Category: Blog

New CPE Standards 12/31/2019

New Year, new CPE standards.

Revised CPE Standards

Many SimpleCert® customers use SimpleCert® to create CPE certificates for their attendees, so we wanted to inform you of new standards now posted on the NASBA website. Interested parties are encouraged to download the Standards and the Fields of Study documents, which can be found on this page.


NASBA and the AICPA approved the revisions to the Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Programs (Standards) during their respective October and November Board of Directors meetings. 

In addition, the NASBA Board approved and the AICPA Board took a position of support on the revised NASBA Fields of Study document. The NASBA Fields of Study document is referenced in the Standards and provides guidance on the classification of CPE credits into acceptable subject matter areas.

The following documents are available for download:

How to create certificates in bulk

How to Create Bulk Certificates

If you are looking for how to create certificates in bulk and you search in Google, you will see certificate supplies, certificate builders, how to use mail merge in no less than 20 steps, applications that have certificates as add-ons, and finally the mix-up of ssl certificates to those of award certificates. 

You have a list and you have a certificate, so your intuition tells you it shouldn’t be hard to merge the information and email it out, right? You can do it through excel and the steps to mail merge and create certificates in word, but then you need to print them. What about individually saving them?

You can set it up in Google Forms and have it attached as a PDF and emailed. That seems more like it. But again, it’s not very straight forward and takes many, many, steps. You still have don’t have individually saved certificates.

Finally, you found an application you can download, and it seems pretty plug and play. It even saves the certificates. Awesome. But what if you misspelled a name or sent it to the wrong email, now what? How are your certificates organized, updated, and resent?

3 Reasons Why Creating Certificates in Bulk with SimpleCert® is the answer:

  1. It’s so quick and easy. With SimpleCert®, once you have your Certificate template perfected and your email template ready to go, it really takes only seconds to create bulk certificates. For example, one of our customers had over 3,000 past certificates and it literally took 7 seconds to create, import and save them to her SimpleCert® account.
  2. Unlimited storage. Every certificate created is stored. Past certificates can be imported in bulk and then your recipients simply have to log into your SimpleCert® portal to retrieve all of their certificates (past and present) all from one account.
  3. Customer support. If you think SimpleCert® is your answer for current and future certificates, but don’t know what to do about your past ones, let us help you. We recently helped a customer transition from another system to SimpleCert® because they were overwhelmed with how to transition past certificates. They thought it would be too cumbersome and take too long to import. Importing certificates in bulk is our specialty!

With over half a million certificates stored for our customers, SimpleCert® has the infrastructure to easily handle importing your bulk certificates too!

Learn more about SimpleCert® here.

Young man holding a framed certificate.

Looking to get Certificates printed, framed and mailed out?

This is a question we receive now and again, and the short answer is Yes – we do that. And we’d be happy to talk with you if you are searching for a way to accomplish this.

However when we are working with our clients, or talking with prospective companies about setting up a system to mail out framed certificates, there are several important factors to consider. It’s best to fully consider all aspects to determine if it is possible for you to get certificates printed, framed and mailed.

This blog will highlight some of the major considerations to keep in mind, if you are looking to outsource the printing, framing, and mailing of your certs.

1. Who Knew Style Could Be Fragile?

Everyone comes to this discussion with a similar intent: To reward your recipients – doctors, graduates, honorees, etc – with an impressive, meaningful, framed award certificate that will immediately be hung on a wall for years to come. It’s a noble, commendable goal.

However, keep in mind that a large, beautiful frame that checks all the boxes in the design category might be fragile, and easily damaged during shipping. Ensuring that it does arrive in a pristine shape means the packaging costs might become more than you have bargained for. But, when thinking about what your end product will be to your recipients, it’s best to think about it in terms of utilizing a frame that is simple, sturdy and not overly large.

Another common misstep is to automatically rule out using frames that have clear acrylic as a faceplate, in lieu of using frames that have a glass face plate. As we all know, glass is fragile, and even the best packed frames can sometimes break during shipment. If your goal is to deliver a meaningful memento, having him/her open the package to discover glass shards is not a great lasting impression.

It’s our recommendation to consider using frames that have a clear acrylic faceplate, to ensure there are no nasty surprises.

2. There’s a Reason it’s Called Snail Mail

As you may know, SimpleCert® is an online self-service tool that allows you to instantly create any number of certificates. Certificate recipients have a high quality, electronic certificate waiting in their email inbox the second you send them out from SimpleCert®. Instant gratification!

When we send certificates out for clients via mail your recipients can easily be waiting for many days, even weeks before they receive their certificate. It’s possible that the perceived value of your certificate may diminish to a recipient during that time. Of course, this can be offset to some extent depending on how much money you are willing to spend to ship them out.

Every use case is different, so be sure to ask yourself how important it is that your certificates are received quickly. Will the perceived value of your certificate diminished by the amount of time it might take to mail to a recipient?

3. The Elephant in the Room That’s Standing on your Certificates

In a word: Cost.

The cost per certificate, to print, frame, and mail a certificate can quickly become a factor if you are sticking to a budget. As has been mentioned above, each use case is different. And we can help you assess and determine if cost will be a factor for you to mail certificates.

In general, here are some ballpark costs that you can expect to pay, if you are looking to have your certificates framed and mailed, per certificate and BEFORE actual shipping costs are factored in:

  • SimpleCert® creation of certificate: $.10 cents
  • Certificate cardstock: $.45 – $1.10
  • Printing: $.49 cents
  • Mailers and packaging: $.55 – $3.50 dependent on the size of the certificate frame
  • Certificate frames: $4.50 – $15.50 per frame

With these numbers it’s safe to project that you are looking at ballpark costs of between $6.09 – $20.69, per certificate as a good estimate, not including shipping costs. Of course additional custom features, like gold foil stamping, can increase these costs as well. However, If these numbers are within your budget, then let’s talk and we can get you set up.

Suffice to say when projecting out these costs across an entire Certificate program, many companies opt for an alternative method to distribute certificates. The vast majority of these companies opt to utilize SimpleCert® for its original design as a way to provide high quality certificates to recipients online.

4. It’s the Content, not the Container

Taking these factors into account, it will become easier to determine what is the right avenue for you to take.

If budget is a factor but there is still a strong need to mail certificates, consider engaging SimpleCert® to print high quality certificates that would be mailed without a frame. Taking out the certificate frame will greatly reduce shipping and packaging costs, and eliminate any possibility of damage in shipment.

Of course, it’s our opinion that the true value of any certification you give is in the actual certificate itself, and less so in an actual frame. SimpleCert® is designed to automate the process of Certificate Management, and provide your recipients with a high quality certificate that they can store and enjoy digitally OR physically if they choose to print the certificate out.

At the end of the day however, it’s our job to support you, so shoot us a line at if you have questions, or are looking for a way to get certificates printed. We’re happy to help.

Where does the time go?

Time - SImpleCert Saves!
Where Does the Time Go?

• Did you know the average person falls asleep in 7 minutes
• Did you know the longest recorded flight of a chicken was 13 seconds
• Did you know cats spend 66% of their life asleep
• Did you know Switzerland eats the most chocolate equating to 10 kilos per person per year
• Did you know Koalas sleep around 18 hours a day
• Did you know all the blinking in one day equates to having your eyes closed for 30 minutes
• Did you know lightning strikes the Earth 6,000 times every minute
• Did you know elephants sleep between 4 – 5 hours in a 24-hour period
• Did you know a 1 minute kiss burns 26 calories
• Did you know a hummingbird’s heart beats at over a 1,000 times a minute
• Did you know an average person will spend 25 years asleep
• Did you know there are 31,557,600 seconds in a year
• Did you know the movie ‘Wayne’s World’ was filmed in two weeks
• Did you know small dogs usually live longer than larger breeds
• Did you know all of the clocks in the movie ‘Pulp Fiction’ are fixed to 4:20
• Did you know giraffes and rats can last longer without water than camels
• Did you know rubber bands last longer when kept refrigerated
• Did you know the longest possible eclipse of the sun is 7.31 minutes
• Did you know Halley’s comet passes the Earth every 76 years (the next time it will return will be 2062)
• Did you know there are 31,536,000 seconds in a year
Did you know if you currently spend 4 hours a month on a certificate process, with SimpleCert® you would save 2700 minutes a year! That’s 45 hours or 1.875 days.

SimpleCert® Recipient Portals

SimpleCert® Recipient Portals – Distributing certificates via individual portals

One of the most popular features  among SimpleCert® Monthly Subscribers is the Recipient Portal.  In this Blog we’ll describe what it is, how it works, and why it’s such a valuable feature to users with frequent certificate distribution needs.

If you are reading this blog, you are probably familiar with how SimpleCert® works:  SimpleCert® is a Certificate Management System.  It allows you to create a free certificate template, and then use that template design to distribute customized certificates to your recipients via a notification email.  Each recipients’ certificate is automatically customized by data that you upload into the system (first and last name, company, title of the class they have completed, for example) prior to sending your notification emails out.  Recipients simply click on a link that’s included in the notification email to access their certificate, and from there they can save or print their certificate out.

Pretty cool, huh?  Not so fast though – here’s where things get even cooler with the Recipient Portal.

The Recipient Portal feature is included in a monthly subscription to SimpleCert®.  As a monthly subscriber, you can brand Recipient Portals with your logo for an added marketing plug.   Then when you use SimpleCert® to distribute certificates, each recipient who you send a certificate to will have a Recipient Portal created for them in addition to the traditional certificate download link.  Every certificate that you send to that person in the future will also be placed into their portal and is available for them to access.

Let’s say for example you are an instructor for Continuing Education classes, and your students take your classes to earn credits that count towards their Continuing Education requirements.  Over several years you can expect your students to take multiple, if not dozens, of classes from you.  If you are a monthly subscriber to SimpleCert®, each of your students will have their own individual portal where all certificates they receive from you will be stored. They no longer have to track and store the certificates that you send out, and all of their certificates are accessible at any time from within their portal.  There’s no cost to them since it’s automatically included in your subscription to SimpleCert®.  You gain some valuable brand recognition with a branded Recipient Portal, and you provide a fantastic bonus to your recipients at the same time!

It’s pretty easy to see why for those in the know, the Recipient Portal feature is perhaps the greatest feature of SimpleCert®.  We invite you to log on and see for yourself today!



SimpleCert® saves you TIME

® saves you time.” src=”×226.jpeg” alt=”Isn’t your time worth it?” width=”300″ height=”226″ /> SimpleCert® saves you TIME

Have a beautiful certificate template you’ve already designed? Great! Just login into SimpleCert®’s builder, choose the blank – custom certificate template and import that great certificate as a background. (HINT: Click on change background instead of add image, it will automatically resize full certificate page size.)


We hope that SimpleCert® then extends and improves the certificate process even further by allowing you, after importing a great template, to then email it to your recipients. No more updating each certificate and saving individually!


SimpleCert® improves the Certificate process by saving you TIME:

  1. Automagically creating each individual Certificate for you (aren’t merge fields great!)
  2. Emailing all recipients at once (using secure SMTP servers or even your own-coming soon!)
  3. Easily searching certificates by project, recipient name, or email (no more where is that email?!)
  4. Updating Certificate names on the fly (seriously, update name and email again in seconds!)


Other features that go beyond the certificate builder are really in the sending and storing. Email features include allowing you to customize each email for every project/certificate with recipient’s name, the award/reward title, and the ability to add your logo and attachments. However, we think the magic is actually being able store and resend certificates. There are requirements for CPE providers, for example, to keep certificates for 5 years (auditing does happen!) And what better service as a CPE provider to be able to easily send those certificates out again (for free!) for those recipients trying to get all their credits aggregated and tallied for the annual renewal or the dreading individual audit!


So what’s stopping you from improving your Certificate Process?! Use SimpleCert® today and sign up for a free account. And for those of you that have signed up but haven’t got passed creating your first Cert Set, take the plunge. Isn’t your time worth it?

IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider – Check out SimpleCert®!

According to, “The Annual Filing Season Program is intended to recognize and encourage unenrolled tax return preparers who voluntarily increase their knowledge and improve their filing season competency through continuing education (CE).”  As an IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider, that’s where you come in…to provide those 16 hours of continued education per year! The content is your bailiwick, but we can help you create the certificate of completion. You are required to give tax preparers who attend your program a certificate of completion. To help you with this process, we have a NEW updated template that meets all the requirements listed on the IRS Sample Certificate.

IRS Provider Excel Template that you use to submit your participants’ information through your online CE provider account! The parts that change: Program Name, IRS Issued Program Number, CE Hours Awarded, Program Completion Date, Location, and Email are all merge fields that SimpleCert® uses to create your participants’ certificates.

Once set up, it takes seconds to create and email your certificates. It’s that simple! SimpleCert® stores all your certificates for your program as a single project for your records. This includes the master certificate of completion and all records of who completed programs and when. Did you know you need to keep these records for a period of four years? See Standard No.13 for a complete list of records to be kept in the event you ever get audited!

Now that SimpleCert® is here to help with your certificate management, you can sleep soundly at night! If you wish to apply to become an IRS Approved Continuing Education Provider, please visit IRS CE Provider. Are you a NASBA CPE Sponsor? If so, you may become a CE provider recognized for continuing education purposes by an IRS CE accrediting organization.


An Experiment Shows that Certificates Encourage Students to Attend After-School Tutoring Sessions

“We found that the students in the certificate group attended 42.5 percent more of their allocated tutoring hours than students in the control group.”

We found the following article that quantitatively shows that certificates of recognition encourage Students, read below:

Matthew G. Springer, Vanderbilt University

Many parts of the federal education law called No Child Left Behind were highly visible, but one of the less known provisions, the Supplemental Educational Services provision set aside funds to allow low-income students in poorly performing schools to get free access to after-school tutoring. Research has found that the benefits of this provision vary, depending on location and the types of providers offering tutoring services. But regardless of benefits, low attendance has been a consistent problem. Using a randomized experiment, my colleagues and I set out to test whether students eligible for tutoring would attend sessions more regularly if they got either certificates of praise or money for doing so.

How the Study Worked

We randomly selected 300 5th to 8th grade students in a large southern urban school district who were eligible to receive supplemental educational services. Prior studies found tutoring services in this district to be relatively high quality. To see whether use of those services could be improved, we randomly assigned students in our study to one of three subgroups:

  • Students in one group got a reward of $100 (distributed via an online platform) for consistent attendance at tutoring sessions.
  • Students in a second group got certificates of recognition for consistent attendance, signed by the school’s district superintendent and mailed to their homes.
  • Students in the third group were a control group, whose members received no experimental incentives.

Praise Matters More Than Money

Our results were striking. The students who were offered up to $100 for regular attendance were no more likely to attend tutoring sessions than if students were offered nothing at all. However, when we offered students and their parents a certificate, attendance went dramatically up. Students in the certificate group attended about 40 percent more of their tutoring hours than students in the control group who got no rewards or praise.

Our results parallel those from prior studies, where paying students and teachers for higher test scores proved ineffective. However, those earlier studies were not a definitive test of monetary rewards, because teachers and students might have lacked the knowledge or support they needed to improve test scores. In other words, you can offer a man more money to catch more fish, but he will not be able to claim the money if you don’t help him improve his fishing skills.

In our study of attendance at tutoring sessions, the situation was different. We offered money to students who attended regularly – and when they got to their tutoring sessions, there was someone to help them improve their skills in reading and math. The ambiguity that plagued interpretation of the experiments where teachers and students were offered money to improve test scores does not hold for our experiment.

Although the benefits of the monetary incentives were negligible, we found that the students in the certificate group attended 42.5 percent more of their allocated tutoring hours than students in the control group. This is a very strong effect – and the impact of offering the certificate for good attendance was especially strong for female students, who attended significantly more of their allocated tutoring hours than male students who were also offered certificates.

Policy Implications

Policymakers and practitioners seeking to increase attendance of tutoring sessions and other underutilized student supports should note how cost effective it is to offer certificates. In our study, providing the certificates cost about $9 for each student who completed all of the tutoring sessions. The cost for monetary rewards was obviously much more – more than $100 for each student who completed all the allocated hours. In short, the certificate intervention is more than 6,000 times more cost-effective than the monetary incentive. Our estimates are rough and paint an extreme picture. But they illustrate an important conclusion: non-monetary incentives can both work better than doling out money and can be a lot cheaper way to nudge students toward educational success.

Even so, the results of our experiment do not offer a comprehensive answer to an ongoing puzzle: Would it work to offer certificates of recognition to try to motivate many kinds of desirable student behavior?  Using certificates might not work as well if they were more widely used, because economic theory suggests that the value ascribed to a certificate of recognition would likely have diminishing marginal utility – that is, students would care less about earning these certificates if they were awarded all the time to reward all kinds of things teachers and parents want students to do.

Even in our own study, it might be that a second certificate of recognition would not have the same impact as the first. Furthermore, earning a certificate of recognition might not matter as much to a student who consistently brings home excellent report cards as it would to a student who earns lower grades. In real world applications, educators using non-monetary incentives may need to take such possible diminishing returns into account.

Even so, our results should inspire measured enthusiasm. Many other experiments with student incentives have registered disappointing results, but we found something that works well at very low cost. Educators should try incentives of this sort to boost participation in underutilized programs. And our study should also inspire researchers to do more nuanced and imaginative research on student incentives.

Read more in Matthew Springer, “Monetary vs. Non-Monetary Student Incentives for Tutoring Services: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” (with Brooks Rosenquist and Walker Swain). Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness 8 (2015):453-474.                                                                                                                      April 2016

This article was originally published on Scholars Strategy Network. Read the original article.

Are you a NSCA® CEU Provider?

Create your certificates with SimpleCert®!

Now that we understand some of the benefits of why becoming a provider is beneficial (see last post), let’s look more closely as CEU providers, for example we wrote about NASBA.

We believe that continuous education allows individuals to improve their craft and stay present as there will always be improvements, advancements, skills, and changes. For example, we came across NSCA® – National Strength and Conditioning Association.

They provide certification for the following programs:

• The Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®)
• The Certified Special Population Specialist® (CSPS®)
• The NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT®)
• The Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator® (TSAC-F®)

To stay compliant and be able to re-certify every 3 years, trainers/facilitators/specialist have the option to take an exam or complete and report continuing education units (CEUs) . Depending on when your original certification date is, you may have to earn up to 6.0 CEUs. In their world of strength and conditioning, scientific knowledge, techniques in training, and new equipment are ever changing. Certification is a way to testify that these individuals are competent.

As a NSCA® CEU provider you have enough on your plate to seek CEU approval of your activity and meet the requirements of the application process. Let SimpleCert® help with easily creating the certificate you need to provide once individuals have demonstrated completion of your approved activity. Once you create this certificate in SimpleCert®, adding your logo and own design, you may reuse the certificate template for all your activities. Just have participant’s name, activity name, and date all be merge fields in your template.

And although each participant has to report activity directly to NSCA and maintain their own records. Using SimpleCert® is an easy way to have them log into your account and keep their documentation on file through our attendee portal and administrative STORE module.

Thank you, NSCA® and its providers for dedicating your organizations to improving, helping, and researching ways to advance the strength and conditioning professional’s knowledge that in-turn helps others find ways to improve their health.

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