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Organizations run award programs to serve several stakeholders – sponsors, the organization itself, and the community, to name a few, but the main stakeholder to keep in mind are the applicants themselves.
Award programs can include grants, scholarships, fellowships and awards themselves, just to name a few – any program that includes a form to collect information that is submitted, selecting a winner, and managing the process. Applying for funding or recognition can be stressful for applicants and ensuring they have an enjoyable experience will help you achieve a high quality applicant pool.
Here are 9 proven ways to make it easier for your applicants:

1.  Look and feel – Consistency is the key.

Applicants want a smooth experience when submitting their application, especially if it is their first time. Jumping off to another system from your website that looks different can result in frustration. Keep a consistent look and feel on your program landing page that aligns with your website.

2. Single-Sign on.

If your award program requires your applicants to be a member or employee of your organization, ensure your award program supports single sign-on to your association management system,  to avoid the frustration of remembering multiple passwords.

3. Sweat the details.

Who do users contact if there’s a technical issue? When is the application due? Where can users reference frequently asked questions? All this key info should be clearly organized and displayed on your program’s landing page, so users have relevant information at their fingertips, rather than having to search through several subpages.

4. Keep it simple.

The saying “less is more” has never been truer here – visual progress indicators and relevant questions help far more than wordy explanations and confusing directions.

5. Understand your marketing efforts.

At the end of your application, include a short optional survey asking users how they found out about your program. This will help you know which demographics you are reaching, who to target, and which advertising sources are generating the most users.

6. Make scoring intuitive.

Provide clear instructions to your reviewers with easy-to-follow scoring options. It would be a shame if a winner was selected due to a misunderstanding on rating. Letting reviewers know how to rate candidates in a simple, succinct way will ensure the awards go to only the best candidates.

7. Allow offline access.

It helps to provide your reviewers with a single, downloadable PDF of the form and attachments to assist them with efficient scoring, ranking, or voting. This allows reviewers to view each applicant’s info in a simple fashion, viewing it at their convenience if the review process takes multiple days.

8. Communicate.

Maintain constant communications with your users to remind them of impending deadlines and/or program updates. These can include custom emails and pop-up reminders on your program landing page. That way they have a lower chance of missing a form submission deadline or forgetting a change in the process.

9. Stay connected.

Add an email sign-up form and social sharing options to your program landing page – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, the works. It will help connect with your target audience and build program awareness for future events.


Since 2008, RQ Awards has helped organizations around the world simplify and streamline their Award Programs. Contact us to learn more about how RQ Awards can help your organization become more efficient.

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