Improving Student Communications in Your Scholarship Process

Communicating with students is a key part of the scholarship process. While it can be time-consuming and occasionally overwhelming, it is also incredibly rewarding to congratulate them on their scholarship awards, collect post-acceptance information and thank-you messages, and share those messages with donors. That is the heart of every scholarship program—empowering student success. 

Yet in a Blackbaud survey, only 50% of institutions felt like their communications to students were streamlined efficiently. At a time when everyone seems to be doing more with less, how do you reduce administrative burdens and still nurture the kind of relationships that your students deserve?

Below are a few tips on how to streamline communication with students for efficiency and engagement.

Consolidate and modernize decision notifications. 

Many institutions still rely on email to communicate with students, and in some cases send multiple emails based on the number of awards they receive. For example, if a student is awarded 10 different scholarships, they get 10 different emails they must open, read, and click to accept their awards. 

Gone are the days when we could rely strictly on email to communicate with today’s students. We must meet them where they are, which is on their phone. Texts and push notifications get their attention more quickly and they will be more responsive if the text connects them with a portal where they can accept all their awards, complete thank-you notes for donors, and other actionable items.

Admins can save time by consolidating messaging to include all the scholarships and awards each student is receiving—rather than one-by-one notifications—and the student has one reference point to view everything regarding their awards.

Modern award management software consolidates all awards in one system and facilitates communication by enabling both text and email.

Use an online platform to collect post-acceptance details.

Do you currently collect post-acceptance information from your award recipients? This could include thank-you letters to scholarship donors, answers to a series of questions about their experience at your institution, or essays about the impact of the scholarships on their lives. All these things are helpful when it comes to stewarding your donors, but trying to wrangle students to write letters and provide other information in a timely manner can be difficult. 

Using an online platform to collect information not only makes the process easier for you, but it also encourages your students to complete the tasks on time. Students no longer need to walk across campus to deliver a hastily-written handwritten thank-you note or questionnaire. Over 60% of institutions are asking students to submit these things online, allowing the scholarship and advancement administrators the ability to proofread, edit, and store the collected information digitally.* In turn, this makes it easier to share student information with your donors and deepen their connection to your program.

(*Let’s face it. Students are doing it all on their phones, so you will need to proofread and edit everything. The right software can help.)

Leverage automation in your scholarship management platform.

Perhaps the most significant benefits of a top-tier award management platform are scholarship centralization and the ability to automate communication. When all available awards are centralized, the system can auto-match students to scholarships and alert them of awards for which they may be eligible. Students can apply for all awards with one login and one common application.

After committee reviews—which the system facilitates—the scholarship administrator can activate email and text messaging to let each student know what awards they received and what their next steps are. They can also automate reminders and other notifications, then students use the same login they used for applications to accept awards and submit necessary information.

Streamline communications for efficiency and engagement.

Consolidating communications, updating the means with which you communicate, and strategically automating notifications can take a major amount of work off scholarship administrators, freeing up your time for other important tasks as you move through the season. 

Interested in other ways to streamline your scholarship management process? Check out more posts on our higher education blog and our resource center.

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