Three Steps to Purchasing Award Management Solutions at Higher Education Institutions

November 21, 2017 Charlie Davenport

Often, when a Higher Education institution begins looking for a software solution to help with their student award processes to manage scholarships, bursaries and prizes, their goal is to improve a process currently conducted using paper applications, spreadsheets and seemingly infinite emails!  As student awards become increasingly more vital to the recruitment and retention of high calibre students, more and more institutions are turning to technology to help them improve a currently disorganised and confusing process.

Since many universities have never used student award management technology before, it can be difficult to determine exactly how to find the right technology solution to support your end-to-end award management operation. Here are three tips to help you and your organisation do just that:  

  1. Get the right people involved

It is important to understand who is involved in managing student awards, from handling applications right through to donor stewardship. While you may play a particular role in the process (or several!), it is very likely that others are involved as well. The Student Funding office and Support Operations are two likely examples. Ask around to find out who is involved in making student awards, and ask them more about the processes and technology they are using today to complete their tasks.  These groups should be involved in helping you evaluate various solutions and help ensure that you are making the right technology investment for your institution.  

  1. Understand how a new product will work for you, your students and your donors

After you have determined which colleagues should be involved in the scholarship process, it’s time to begin evaluating varying software.  However, there are two major users of this technology who will not be on your team: your students and your donors. 

As you evaluate solutions, ensure that any technology you choose will help to improve the application process for your students. It is also important that student award technology makes it easy to collect thank you notes and other acknowledgements and make it easy to share those with donors.  

  1. Find a tool designed to do the job

It’s possible that your student awards haven’t always a high priority as managing the required processes can be complex and – for some institutions - prohibitively time-consuming. However, as student awards continue to grow rapidly in importance, playing a vital role in attracting the best students, it is up to institutions to ensure that a new software solution specialises in student awards. 

Your university needs to ensure that the application, reviewing, awarding, and donor stewardship components are all available on Day 1, so you can complete the entire process within one solution, from beginning to end. It is also advisable to make sure that whatever software you purchase can easily integrate with and ‘speak to’ your other technology systems such as your student information system, finance systems and donor CRM. 

Technology integration will eliminate the need for duplicate data entry and will allow for the most streamlined and efficient processes.


At Blackbaud Award Management, our team has helped over 600 universities and colleges purchase the best student award technology for them, and we’d love to help you as well.  Drop us a line for further details.

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