You and your scholarship team have poured thought and effort into designing your scholarship program’s application and review phases. As a result of your hard work, you have identified and awarded scholarships to deserving applicants whose experiences and goals align with your mission. Congratulations on your achievement! Now it is time to engage your newly minted scholars toward a long-term relationship.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation (CCSF) is a well-known thought leader in this space. Recently, they shared in a National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) webinar how they leverage technology to connect with their scholars post-award, gather data and stories, and demonstrate their program’s impact.
Here are three lessons they shared:
Lesson 1: Renewal Management is Key
As CCSF scholars may use their award for up to 10 years either for undergraduate or postgraduate studies, the yearly renewal process is key to ensure scholars take full advantage of their funds in the way and at the time that is most helpful to them. Using the same scholarship management platform that supports the application and review processes, CCSF reconnects with their scholars regularly to encourage renewals. Because they monitor payment disbursements on behalf of recipients and send personalized emails to scholars reminding them of the steps to take to facilitate payment, scholars can easily see their available funds, consider their upcoming needs, and request payments. Since scholars may direct their awards toward tuition, computers, study abroad programs, or a number of other options, the renewal process can also spark discussion between CCSF and their scholars about how their academic career is progressing.
Lesson 2: Gather Data and Measure Impact
In order to maintain their scholarship eligibility, scholars must report annual data to CCSF via the scholarship platform. To measure the program’s impact quantitative data on each scholar’s academic performance, community service, employment, and leadership roles is collected. CCSF then aggregates these metrics to tell the whole group’s story. While quantitative data is helpful in measuring trends, it can feel impersonal, so CCSF also asks each scholar to share three accomplishments (one sentence each) that they are particularly proud of from the past year. These personal statements help bring the numbers to life.
Lesson 3: Find Ways to Inspire and Connect
After connecting with scholars, collecting data, and measuring impact, CCSF shares these trends and stories with their stakeholders as well as the scholar community. Specifically, they send weekly emails and monthly newsletters to let scholars know what their fellow scholars are accomplishing. This not only provides inspiration but also facilitates connections as many of the scholars end up collaborating with one another. Significantly, CCSF shared that these emails and newsletters are fairly short and easy to develop: content is designed to be delivered with “one stroke of the thumb” since most scholars read the updates on their phones.
The Bottom Line
In CCSF’s experience, when they execute their post-award plan well, the scholarship program transforms from transactional to relational. By ensuring that scholars can easily access their funds, capturing meaningful data and stories, and sharing these stories to create connection, CCSF moves their relationship “from coaching to collegial” and creates lasting networks between their organization and their scholars.
Learn about ZengineTM, the platform CCSF uses to manage its scholarship program. Request a demo today.