Reviewing scholarships can be one of the most complicated processes to manage during the scholarship season even during the best of times. With your scholarship team and reviewers working remotely this common challenge may seem insurmountable. But reviewers are a critical piece to the scholarship cycle and you are dependent on them to complete the rest of the scholarship process on time. If they are delayed, awards are delayed, ultimately impacting student success.
Empowering your reviewers during this time of social distancing is a key way to keep them on schedule and excited about completing reviews. So, how can you do that? Below are a few suggestions and Blackbaud customer examples to help get you started.
Provide Reviewer Training Virtually
If you have previously held in-person reviewer trainings for your teams on campus, it might be worth considering moving these to a virtual setting. Platforms like Zoom and Google Meet can be great options for this as they allow you to share your screen with attendees to provide an in-depth training. Hosting live trainings also allow attendees the opportunity to ask questions, share ideas, and bring up any concerns they might have.
The scholarship team at California State University – Long Beach has been using this tactic to work with their reviewers.
"Our biggest challenge has been converting from face-to-face interactions to remote interactions. Because of the switch to remote we have extended our scholarship season to accommodate longer reviewing time and we are hosting Zoom open-labs and trainings. This allows reviewers to come in and ask questions of our team and trouble-shoot any problems they may be having.”
-Oliver , CSU Long Beach
Keep Them Updated
A key part of working with remote reviewers is keeping them updated. In cases like this sometimes over communicating is the perfect amount of communication. Keep reviewers updated of any changes to the scholarship process, award qualifications, deadlines, etc. This not only keeps them in the loop of what’s going on but makes them feel like an integral part of the larger team.
Provide Training Documentation
Providing resources such as pre-recorded videos and training documentation to reviewers is a great way to encourage them to help themselves when they have questions or when they are unable to reach you directly for assistance. Many institutions use documentation to help define the reviewing process, answer FAQ’s, and direct reviewers to either full-length or specific training videos to help solve their problems.
The scholarship team at the University of Wisconsin – Madison has been working to do just that for their team.
"We are trying to offer the same level of service to our reviewers remotely. This was already in the works, but we’ve sped up the creation of online training videos for reviewers that they will always have access to. It has also given us the opportunity to beef up our documentation around our processes and, in particular, around our more complicated workflows.”
Keith Brown, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Hear Them Out
Your reviewers are your boots on the ground in the scholarship process. They are best able to gauge their bandwidth in their new work from home environment and may decide they need more time to complete the reviews or that they need more support from other reviewers. Building trust with your reviewers by listening to them and being prepared to respond will only encourage them to complete the work you need them to do.
Partner with Campus Leaders
Getting stakeholders on board, such as college deans or athletic directors, can make a big difference when it comes to motivating your reviewers. Instead of having to communicate with every single reviewer you essentially communicate with a handful of “team leads” who can then share information with the reviewers in their department and manage deadlines and workloads.
Pasadena City College uses this tactic on their campus.
"We are decentralized and have struggled to engage reviewers since I joined the team. We have found it helpful to use the deans to make sure the faculty understand that this is the way it will be done and that their participation is crucial to the support and success of the students. We always try to bring the focus back to the students to try and remind them why we’re here. Our college deans have been pivotal in spreading that message.”
Kris McPeak, Pasadena City College