• Award Cycle Preparation Best Practices

    Here at AwardSpring, we’ve seen many award cycles come and go - and we’ve noticed some important preparations that can help an award cycle run like a well-oiled machine. Read on for the steps you can take right now to make your next award cycle your best yet!

    Determine when your important milestones will be.

    When is your application deadline going to be? When should scholarship money be distributed? Once these dates are settled, it’s much easier to work backward to determine when the application window should open, award decisions should be made, and other important scholarship activities should take place.

    Set goals for the year.

    Figuring out your biggest priorities up front will help you use your time wisely throughout the award cycle. This year, is it more important to recruit new students or retain existing students? Do you plan to give away an entire endowment, or reserve some portion of it for next year? 

    Revisit students’ previous questions and problems.

    We suggest taking a look back at last year’s biggest problems or most frequent questions to guide you towards impactful changes to make this year. Review correspondence with students, notes you took, or memories you have about any aspect of the application process that proved troublesome. 

    Confirm all scholarship details.

    Review all of your scholarship listings for needed updates before the new award cycle begins. In particular, double check whether the award values and qualifications have changed. If you had a hard time attracting qualified applicants to a particular scholarship in years past, stay tuned for an upcoming article on increasing qualified applicants for specific actions you can take this year.

    Engage donors.

    Engaging donors throughout the award cycle can ensure a strong future for your scholarship program. Before a new award cycle starts, consider reaching out to donors to discuss any changes to scholarship requirements, to thank them for their support, and to report their impact on student recipients. 

    Review and update your application.

    The final step before starting a new award cycle is to make updates to your application. AwardSpring users may wish to review our previously published blog post about updating your AwardSpring site. For a complete primer specifically focused on applications, look for an upcoming guide to optimizing your application.

  • 3 Simple Ways to Promote Your Scholarships

    Need more qualified applicants for your scholarships? The first step is to make sure your potential applicants hear about your scholarships in the first place. Here are three scholarship promotion strategies that can increase awareness and drive more applications.

    Strategy #1: Word of Mouth

    Word of mouth is generally considered the most effective form of marketing, so it’s our top recommendation for promoting your scholarships. As soon as your scholarships are ready to accept applications, reach out to four key groups of people for scholarship promotion help:

    - Engage alumni and past recipients to help spread the word. Prepare a short message for alumni to post on social media about the scholarship and send an email with all the scholarship details for them to forward on to their networks. Making it simple for alumni to share your message will increase the chances that they do.

    - Inform local high school guidance counselors and major employers. Guidance counselors can shepherd high school students through the application process while local employers will help you reach non-traditional students. Focus on those organizations that are likely to employ students who are a good match for the scholarships that lack applicants. For example, if you want more applicants for your nursing scholarship, your local hospitals and major medical centers will be the best places to focus your scholarship promotion energy.

    - Notify your institution’s instructors and counselors. Instructors have a lot of face time with students, so they’re well-positioned to promote your scholarships for you. Make sure to inform campus staff if your scholarships are available to part-time students, too. Since part-time students don’t qualify for financial aid, they may be extra motivated to apply for scholarships.

    - Remind your reviewers and volunteers. Scholarship reviewers can be enthusiastic supporters of your institution in addition to being pretty knowledgeable about your scholarship offering, making them great scholarship advocates. Ask them to spread the word among their friends and family!

    Strategy #2: Contact Potential Applicants Directly

    If you collect student phone numbers and email addresses when students apply to your institution, you can send messages through those channels to promote scholarships. Just make sure you receive permission from students to contact them in this way.

    Social media advertising is another way you can reach students directly. Its primary benefit is that you can target a very specific market in terms of age, location, and interests. You can also fine-tune your promotions based on budget and need. For example, you can promote all of your scholarships continuously or only those scholarships that are lacking qualified applicants as the deadline nears. The key to a successful social media campaign is to check in your ads’ performance regularly to make sure you’re getting the results you want. Learn more about using social media platforms to reach prospective scholarship applicants.

    Senior Days and similar events in your community provide the chance for you to talk to potential applicants face to face. During your presentation, you can ask students to text a friend or two to spread the word about your scholarship opportunities.

    Strategy #3: Early Bird Deadlines

    If all of your scholarships share the same application due date, consider implementing an early bird deadline to attract more applicants. Offer students the chance to qualify for an additional small scholarship if their applications are received before the early bird deadline. Motivated students will complete their applications early, allowing for plenty of time to troubleshoot any problems they have with the process. Plus, the early bird deadline gives you more opportunities to contact students about the deadlines and incentives.

    By employing these three strategies, you can drive more awareness of your scholarship program and increase the overall number of applications you receive, which is a great first step to ensuring a successful scholarship cycle. To make sure your applicants are well qualified, read our guide to increasing qualified applicants, too.

  • Data Protection: How AwardSpring Complies with New GDPR Guidelines

    Have you heard about the new data privacy law affecting European Union (EU) citizens? Are you wondering whether there’s anything you need to do with the student data you collect through AwardSpring to comply? Some of our competitors have released complicated and confusing explanations of GDPR. At AwardSpring, we think it’s important to explain the new law in an easy-to-understand way. Read on for a plain-English primer of the new regulation and an explanation of how AwardSpring can help you comply with the new law.

    About General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

    On May 25, 2018, the EU implemented GDPR, a law that regulates how companies store, use, and explain how they use personally identifiable user data. All organizations that handle the data of EU citizens must comply with GDPR, no matter where those organizations are based.

    Here are the core elements of GDPR, along with details about how AwardSpring facilitates customers’ compliance:

    Organizations must be clear about how data is used. Since AwardSpring’s launch, we’ve been committed to making our data usage policies clear and easily available to our users. Our privacy policy was written in plain English to make it as easy to understand as possible.

    As a service provider, AwardSpring actually does very little with user data; it’s our customers who collect and use user data through our platform. That’s why we require all customers to provide us with their own easy-to-understand privacy policy that explains how they use applicant data. We publish a link to your privacy policy alongside our own on every page of the application.

    Organizations must collect only necessary data. AwardSpring recommends that customers limit the user data they collect to just the essentials for the scholarship application process..

    Organizations must allow users to request the deletion of their data if the personal data is no longer necessary. Any AwardSpring customer or user can request that we delete his or her data at any time. In response, customers can delete users, which removes all associated data - so be sure that you no longer need the data before deleting a user!

    Organizations must meet technical requirements for data storage. AwardSpring meets the technical requirements outlined by the law, which includes:

    -Having an information security policy and regular reviews

    -Utilizing encryption

    -Maintaining multiple, redundant forms of backup across disparate geographic locations

    -Training staff on user privacy

    Organizations must disclose any privacy breaches. In the unlikely event of a data breach, we are contractually obligated to notify our customers in writing as soon as possible.

    Organizations must test regularly for vulnerabilities. AwardSpring regularly uses automated scans to check for vulnerabilities in our system.

    While the vast majority of AwardSpring’s data is for non-EU citizens, we are still committed to complying with GDPR’s common-sense, user-first data protection guidelines. If you are an AwardSpring customer, we recommend that you review your own privacy policy to ensure it complies with GDPR, too. Be sure to send us an updated version of your privacy policy if you do make any changes. And if you have any questions at all about our data protection policies, please get in touch!

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