Using Technology to Assign Donor Funds Faster

  • March 11, 2020

Awarding endowed scholarships during the admissions process can be extremely difficult due to the number of funds involved and the uncertainty as to whether a student will actually enroll. Private institutions often use “assignment or fund swapping” as a way to maximize the use of endowed scholarships.

In an “assignment” process, students are provided the total amount of institutional aid they will receive with their admission letter but are not matched to endowed scholarships until they actually enroll. This gives the campus the flexibility to maximize their use of endowed funds, while eliminating the need to constantly re-award to students that are not fully committed to the institution.

Although assigning scholarship awards after enrollment eliminates the need to constantly re-award students, there are still several challenges that institutions may face including the following.

  • Award decisions are made off of old data

    Administrators often match students to scholarship funds using spreadsheets exported from the campus student information system. These reports quickly fall out of date as incoming students continually change their information. In addition, select scholarship funds may require information that doesn’t exist within the campus student information system, leaving administrators to make a best guess as to a student’s qualification.

  • Students become confused

    Students may not understand the endowed fund they were awarded is already part of their existing aid package and may think they are being awarded additional money.

  • Donor stewardship takes too long

    It can take weeks or even months to complete the assignment process due to the complexity of matching students with endowed funds. Students are much less likely to submit donor acknowledgement and “Thank You” letters months after enrolling and donors are wondering whether their gift was appreciated or even utilized.

Do these challenges sound familiar? Implementing a scholarship management technology can help institutions significantly improve their assignment process. A scholarship management platform allows you to import key student record data directly from the campus student information system, ensuring that all of your data is accurate and up-to-date.

The import data can then be used to automatically match students against available scholarships, eliminating the spreadsheets and staff time associated with manual award assignments.

Due to the increased speed of the assignment process, students receive faster notification when their institutional award is offset with donor funds, reducing any confusion that may occur. Students can then immediately submit a donor acknowledgement or “Thank You” letter, allowing advancement to provide feedback to the donor on a faster timeline.

Digital transformation is not a new term. We see the influence of technology in all aspects of our lives, from 2-day delivery services to the evolution of telecommuting. Streamlining your scholarship awarding process with technology is the next step in embracing digital transformation to make an impact on your students ability to receive an education.