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Marketing Scholarships

Hi!

It seems that every year we have difficulty with our local schools advertising our scholarships. We always reach out to the guidance counselors and sometimes principals to make them aware of our scholarships, but we don't see them on their websites. We have tried marketing through various social media, but that hasn't really worked for us.

Does anyone have any good tips to help get the word out?

KaraAdams

Comments

  • I feel your pain, @JenniferBrambley ! School counselors have so many demands on their time, I think scholarship promotion sometimes falls to the wayside. One thing I have learned is to include guidance office secretaries (if your schools have them) on any communication related to scholarships. We seem to have more success if we keep the secretaries in the loop.

    Another tip is to make sharing the information as easy as possible for them. It's more up front work, but at the beginning of our scholarship season, I email each set of school counselors (copying the guidance secretary and principal) a customized flyer with a list of all of the scholarships available for their students. We also maintain a list of their social media handles for Twitter an Facebook and tag schools on our posts.

    Laurie Abildso

    Vice President

    Your Community Foundation of North Central West Virginia, Inc.

    KaraAdamsTomWickersham
  • @LaurieAbildso Thanks for the tips! 😁

    I know we provide them with links to our website, but we haven't created any flyers or social media posts so we can definitely look into that. I'll check if we copy any secretaries or other staff as well.

    The one crazy thing we have noticed is the letters of recommendations from teachers and counselors are a lot more in depth this year than they have in the past. We are getting 2 page letters with very specific information on the students. It was interesting to see that change with everything going on.

    KaraAdamsLaurieAbildso
  • @MichelleCollins Thank you for the tips! I'll definitely give that information to our scholarship director and see if it works for us!

    KaraAdams
  • edited May 19

    Like @LaurieAbildso, we send a packet out every year to all counsellors in the high schools we serve, and a note reminding each one of which scholarships students are eligible for in that school. It's detail intensive work, but without it, students do not look on their own or complete applications on their own. We also post a blog every winter (usually in late winter) about which scholarships are open in which schools, and send that link to the counsellors (if we remember to do so). This all helps, but honestly, there is a lot of handholding to make this successful, and I'd love to find a simpler way to accomplish this.

    LaurieAbildso
  • edited May 19

    Good morning,

    We have to seem to have the same issue, not enough students (e.g. seniors graduating May 2021) applying for scholarships. Our scholarships program was open for over 1.5 month. We had to extend the deadline for a week (day before original deadline) because we did not receive enough applications.

    We created spreadsheet of local schools including name and email addresses of principal, art teachers and counselors. We sent them email (including flyer) every week (via Gmail, dividing bulk email to 25-30 recipients max. to avoid going the email to spam folder). We run ads in several local newspapers, advertised on social media (Facebook, Twitter), plus asked local non-profits to advertise as well, which they did on their Facebook page or via e-newsletter. From the highschools point, their notified their seniors via Fafsa portal, sent emails or advertised in their e-newsletter.

    About 25 seniors started the scholarship application. We were sending reminders about deadline coming up for all those in draft. On the end, sadly, only 12 seniors applied. You would think, during pandemic, more would have make the time and fill out the application and gather required attachments. It was little sad to see that only dozen kids applied.

    @MichelleCollins, it's a good idea to share the flyer with libraries too, thank you for mentioning it. We'll do it for sure next round.

    KaraAdamsSusanMiller
  • CarolReynolds, your handbook is very thorough! Thanks for sharing the link.

    MichelleCollinsKaraAdamsCarolReynoldsSusanBarnes
  • edited May 19

    I agree Kathleen! This catalogue is incredible. I'm going to talk to our team about producing something similar next year. It's so great to have the award criteria listed out like this. 🤩

    KaraAdams
  • HeidiFindlayHeidiFindlay
    Voter U.S.A. 25 Likes Grant Lifecycle Manager (GLM)
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    edited May 19

    I remember College Night when universities, colleges, military, and trade schools came for one night to talk with students (I've seen this set up in the day, as well). I can remember a little conversation about scholarships. If you could support this with someone on site, or a table set up, could it be beneficial? I say this as the mother of one child who applied for ZERO help and another who (still) applies for everything. Meaning, sometimes it's not you....

    Does anyone work with the local community college or universities in the area, or are these scholarships just for the high school grad?

    KaraAdams
  • CarolReynoldsCarolReynolds
    Groundbreaker User Group Meet-Ups 5 Answers
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    We have an organization in our county that does a college and career fair and we have a big display there with guidebooks and one-sheet helpful hints as well as a timeline for the scholarship process. We have never found a good way to work with colleges. However, we do send an email to everyone in SLM who hasn't graduated from college with a link to the information about applying for scholarships, since we have several that are open to current college students.

    HeidiFindlayKaraAdams
  • @JuliaDaSilva I wonder if Triangle Community Foundation's practice of including former scholarship recipients on the selection committee has proven successful for you as a kind of grassroots marketing effort?

    KaraAdams
  • Thanks, @SusanMiller! This is a great thought. This is our second year including students/recent graduates, so I don't know that I can say it has impacted our outreach directly. That does make me want to think about how to track that, though!

    We've done a few things the last couple of years that has drastically increased our scholarship numbers:

    1. Move to a common deadline. We used to have scholarship deadlines spread throughout the spring so that every two weeks we had different scholarships due. Now, they are all due March 1 every year.
    2. With the common deadline, we also moved to the Universal Application in SLM. This has been huge for our lesser known scholarships because students will hear about our larger scholarships and then learn they are eligible for several of our other scholarships. Note: This has also increased our more widely known scholarships to the point where I have to do an internal cut before sending applications to committee.
    3. Talk to your local education/youth nonprofits. These folks are doing deep, impactful work with youth and we have found a much greater response from these orgs than from guidance counselors.

    Those are not directly related to Marketing, but I think making it streamlined has made it easier for students to learn about one opportunity and get linked to our system. This also means we do a big unified marketing push throughout the application season (November to March 1) to our list of guidance counselors AND education/youth-focused nonprofits. We did mail physical flyers, pens, post-its to guidance counselors for a couple of years before the pandemic, but I can't speak to how much of a difference that made.

    TomWickersham
  • KristinLairdKristinLaird
    Groundbreaker 25 Likes First Anniversary
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    edited August 20

    Hi All! I'm the Content Marketing Manager here at Foundant and thought I'd share resources from a recent webinar I presented on for NSPA - Effective Marketing and Outreach Strategies for Scholarship Providers - National Scholarship Providers Association. NSPA has the recording available to members, but I believe it's $59 for non-members. They did give me permission to share my deck and follow-up resource here with you all.

    Kristin Laird Presentation Deck: Personas and Audience Reach for Scholarship Providers

    As part of the prep for this webinar, I also polled our student intern team on their scholarship brand affinity and communication preferences and came away with some interesting tidbits to use in creating example personas for the NSPA audience. I've pulled the survey and responses into a complete pdf below.

    Foundant Student Intern Survey: Brand Affinity and Communication Preferences

    Happy to answer any questions here in the discussion or via email: [email protected].

    KaraAdamsDarahMoore
  • Thanks @KristinLaird for sharing the above information and resources. NSPA is offering a $20 discount on the above webinar recording. Use promo code - NSPA_Foundant.

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