In matter of months, the pandemic outbreak has changed the way we live and engage with others. Associations and non-profits have had to learn how to navigate this new normal.
However, these unprecedented times have also touched on one of the most basic instincts we are born with – the ability to adapt – and get better at what we do.
The three questions we hear often are:
- Can we manage our awards, fellowships, grants, scholarship and mentorship programs efficiently while staff works remotely?
- Can we increase program awareness and reach?
- Can we make it easier for our applicants, committee members and reviewers?
.. and the answer is YES!
Here are 3 quick-win opportunities that apply to all form submission-based and review programs:
Understand where your audience is online.
People visit your website for information. Knowing where these visitors come from and what they do is key to your outreach strategy:
- Did they come from a link on a university website or a job board ad?
- Was there a conversation on Twitter about your program?
- Did that email newsletter you sent to members result in more nominations?
Your website likely has web analytics tracking such as Google Analytics. Request a weekly report to be automatically emailed to you.
Learning from your web analytics about where your users are and how they stay connected, will help you broaden your program awareness by utilizing the right channels such as targeted social, email and online advertising, resulting in an increase of quality.
Implement an online software system to manage your program process – start to finish.
No one understands your awards, grants, fellowships, scholarships and mentorship programs better than you. Managing these programs can be exhausting – collecting applications through email or surveys, reviewing for ineligibility, attaching supporting letters, sending applications to reviewers or creating reports with z-scores and standard deviations. 2
Making the switch to an online software system to manage your program end-to-end is key to saving time and money. Here are some questions to ask first:
- Can it be branded to your website’s look & feel?
- Can the forms, review rubric and workflows be customized for each of your programs – awards, grants, fellowships, scholarships, mentorships, volunteer applications, etc.?
Will it be easier for –
- applicants and nominators to apply, seek references and upload documents, videos, images?
- reviewers to view, rank, score and provide feedback on assigned submissions?
- administrators to manage and extract reports?
- Can it integrate with your AMS for single sign-on, payment processing and data exchange?
- Can this be done within a reasonable budget?
Making the decision to move to an online software will make it easier for your applicants, nominators, reference providers, reviewers and administrators – helping you make a better impact with your programs and save valuable time and money.
Track your recipients and alumni to showcase ROI.
An important part of your overall objectives for scholarships, grants and fellowships can be tracking and receiving post-selection acceptances, documents, surveys, status reports and competition updates. Your online software should manage these processes, resulting in increased efficiency, tracking, reporting and compliance. Other features may include:
- An online directory for alumni to collaborate, communicate, share profile updates and articles
- A tool for alumni to share career and research updates on social media.
- Search, recruit and engage members for workshops and initiatives
Ensuring that your online software has these capabilities will help streamline your post-award processes, making it simpler to engage your recipients and alumni and showcase ROI of your programs.