Please enjoy this guest post from my friend and colleague Brooke Grimes from Academic Works.
This year we have seen some big-name superheroes battling it out at the theaters. Think Batman vs. Superman and Captain America: Civil War. Battles between characters who should be allies make for great drama. Which side are you on? Who’s the Bad Guy?
Unfortunately, we often have a similar conflict between the superheroes in our industry: Scholarships vs. Stewardship. But there is no villain here! We should all be joining forces to achieve a common goal, which is increasing accessibility to education by making resources available to students.
There is a huge opportunity for scholarship and stewardship personnel at colleges and universities across the country to be the superhero that helps achieve this goal. No matter your current role in either department, there are ways to bring the right people together to both streamline the scholarship process and improve donor stewardship efforts.
So what can you do to become the ultimate scholarship and stewardship superhero? There are three easy steps to take:
1. Create an advisory council
2. Make information easily accessible
3. Get award information to donors faster
Create an Advisory Council
An advisory council consists of all of the people involved in your current scholarship process. This most likely includes Financial Aid, Donor Relations, Enrollment, and maybe even representatives from campus departments. Take time to map out the current scholarship and donor stewardship process as they work today. This will give everyone a big picture idea of who has ownership of which parts of the process. Most importantly, it will give everyone a place to begin suggesting improvements. Having an advisory council takes the pressure off of one person to make a change. It brings together groups of people who can have a huge impact on campus.
Make Information Easily Accessible
Often, the people involved in scholarships and stewardship work separately. However, information such as scholarship award rationale, award recipient details, and thank-you notes should be shared. For example, Financial Aid often needs scholarship recipient information to verify award compliance while the Foundation or Advancement office needs this same information to share with donors. This information can be stored in email inboxes and on spreadsheets on individual computers. Opening access to information all across campus can streamline the entire process and improve institutional relationships.
Get Award Information to Donors Faster
Foundations are often in a race to proactively share scholarship recipient information, thank-you letters, and fund financials with donors in a timely manner. One Foundation Vice President I spoke with mentioned that she is in a constant battle to alert donors of scholarship recipients before the student posts it on social media.
Donors also want to see the impact that they are making on the lives of students at your institutions. We see a trend in sharing more information with scholarship donors. Based on a recent study we conducted at AcademicWorks, here is what colleges and universities are providing to donors about their scholarship recipients:
· 73% are providing thank-you letters from students
· 67% are providing biographical information on scholarship recipients
· 34% are providing a photograph of the scholarship recipient
Going back Point #2, the most easily available scholarship information is, the faster you can it get to donors.
I wish you all the best of luck as you look to improve the scholarship and donor stewardship process on your campus. Now it is time to put on your cape and become the scholarship and stewardship superhero on campus! If you are interested in staying up-to-date on the latest tips in scholarship management and donor stewardship, check out www.blog.academicworks.com.