Your grant or scholarship program provides countless opportunities for your organisation to put its best foot forward. For you to look good, it’s important that your applicants feel good and enjoy an amazing experience with your application.
A user-friendly and personalised experience can increase application submissions –and their quality, and it can grow your program and differentiate your organisation from others like it.
Here are six best practices to ensure you’re offering a great grantseeker experience.
1. Provide easy and safe access
The first step in creating an amazing applicant experience is to make sure applicants can actually access your application – whether it’s on paper or online.
An online application can certainly be more accessible than paper-based forms that could get lost in the mail or that could cut off potential applicants without access to them. But, it’s important to offer a secure experience for online registration that protects your users and their information.
If you have a grants system, make it easy to go from place to place; no one likes having to log in to related portals from the same organisation. Speak to your IT department to figure out ways to allow for easy login to your program.
In Good Grants, for example, we offer one simple online hub for all your programs users to sign in securely. You can choose between single sign-in authentication, a SAML integration that allows your applicants to log in through another system, or social media sign in––and all backed with GDPR and CCPA-compliant protections.
2. Offer a user-friendly application experience
Grant and scholarship applications can be extensive. You need to collect a large amount of data that will help you and your reviewers choose the most deserving applicants. But, you need to ask for the information in a user-friendly way with best practice design principles in place to lead applicants step-by-step through the application. There are several great ways to improve your application form, including:
- Minimise information overload. An extensive application can overwhelm an applicant. If you use an online application form, organise it into digestible parts and let your applicants know in advance what you will require.
At Good Grants, for example, we offer an easily configurable application form that you can build with categories and tabs to organise the form. And we use a clear, clean layout to present the form in a pleasing and user-friendly manner.
- Ask only relevant questions. If your applicant has to work through pages of an application with questions that don’t apply to them, they will feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Unnecessary questions can add length to your form and take too much time to complete. Take time to plan your questions in advance. Touch base with your reviewers to see the exact information they’ll need to make a good decision.
At Good Grants, the software does a lot of this work for you, allowing you to use conditional fields in the application form to show specific questions or fields based on information the applicant has provided along the way. #timesaver
- Provide a stress-free experience. If your applicant has to complete the application in one sitting, let them know in advance and make sure they have all the documents and information they need before starting the form. If you’re using a paper-based application, make sure they have all the instructions for completion and submission in the packet. And, if you use an online system, be sure it’s easy and intuitive to submit information and upload files as required.
At Good Grants, the platform automatically saves the application as the grantseeker works, providing peace of mind. This also creates space for the applicant to start, pause and come back to the application as needed, ensuring a higher quality submission. Uploads of all file types and sizes are allowed, giving you the control to collect the exact information you need.
- Protect your applicants’ data. No one wants a data security breach. Whether you are using paper forms or an online system, it’s imperative to protect your program’s information. It’s likely you are collecting sensitive data – budgets, personal statements and more.
Check your system to make sure it’s secure. Chat with your IT department to check your systems regularly. Check your compliance with GDPR and CCPA standards if you have participants in Europe or California. And communicate with your applicants to let them know you are protecting their data.
Here at Good Grants, we’ve worked hard to offer one of the world’s most secure grant management systems. We understand just how important it is to protect our programs’ data and we use world-class privacy protections to put applicants at ease.
3. Provide help + support along the journey
Consider how you can help your applicants. Perhaps that means creating a help document to walk them through the process with how-tos and helpful hints. Or perhaps you provide a video or webinar walkthrough of the application to let your applicants know what to expect.
In Good Grants, for example, we provide spaces throughout the application to add contextual content. This can be text, images or videos embedded into the page to make sure applicants know how to complete the application. The application form also features help and hint text as well as about pages and content blocks – all of which can help mitigate errors in submission and increase application quality.
4. Communicate regularly
Keep in touch with your applicants by sending regular updates and reminders about your program. Regular emails can be a great way to keep your program top of mind for applicants.
In Good Grants, you can send personalised broadcasts and notifications to all or select applicants directly from the platform, ideal for sending reminders to finish an application or inform them of program updates.
5. Create a branded experience
Your application form is an extension of your organisation, and you should make sure it reflects your branding. This can help build your reputation with your applicants and give them a clear, positive and recognisable experience with your organisation.
Highlight your brand by personalising your application form with your logo, relevant pictures, videos and more to give your applicants a branded submission experience.
In the Good Grants platform, for example, you can theme the application interface to match your organisation’s brand and create a consistent experience for your users. You can style menus, buttons, headers, footers, PDFs and emails with a responsive design that looks good on any device. You can use your own custom domain or one provided by us.
And don’t forget your partners. Use any available real estate on the form or your program website to spotlight any program partners, providing recognition for their role in your program in a visible way to applicants.
We offer this in Good Grants with a range of display options for sponsor and partner logos across the application interface.
6. Give your applicants the ability to follow-up
Once an application is submitted, the applicant is finished. But how can you keep them engaged after the application period? How can you let your applicants know you haven’t forgotten about them?
Provide engagement opportunities. Instead of having applicants email or call you for program and application status updates, give them the ability to check status or edit an application.
In Good Grants, for example, we provide a way for applicants to log in any time to check the status of their application as well as options to copy, delete and download their applications.
A great grantseeker experience
Creating a delightful applicant experience is not difficult to achieve. With the right tools, you can offer a user-friendly application that will impress your applicants and grow your program.
A modern, flexible and powerful user experience will create an affinity for your organisation that lasts long after the application period.
Learn how you can use Good Grants to provide a great user experience for your applicants. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today.