This is the Blackbaud Community Best Practices blog.

Reviewing Best Practices With Blackbaud Award Management

It’s hard to believe, but we are already two weeks into November, and you are likely in the middle of your review season or preparing for launch!  There are a lot of moving parts to a review season, so we recommend giving yourself ample time to get everything set up.
Online reviewing with Blackbaud Award Management (formerly AcademicWorks) not only streamlines your reviewing and awarding process, but it also creates a more transparent process and catalogs more objective scoring to reference at any time.  Whether you are a seasoned reviewing veteran, or if this is your first year considering in-system reviewing, below are 10 great tips to keep in mind:  
  1. Understand the process of each committee: As outlined above, we have seen a greater level of adoption when review committees have a chance to voice their concerns and provide feedback before transitioning to online reviewing.  Maintain that channel of communication throughout the entire reviewing process from start to finish.
  2. Create an objective scoring rubric that works for each committee: As much as we all wish for a “golden reviewer template,” you will likely have unique opportunities needing unique rubric criteria.  Take the time to understand the expectations of your donors and ensure that their vision aligns with your grading criteria.
  3. Keep student data secure: Never assume that all of your reviewers are knowledgeable in handling FERPA data.  Consider creating a reviewer agreement which outlines how to properly handle student data.
  4. Facilitate a move away from paper: In addition to creating an environmental burden, did you know that printing out student applications can land you in hot water in an audit?  Moving to an online reviewing process helps to protect you and your applicants from handing over FERPA data to someone with malicious intent.
  5. Have pre-populated FAQ’s ready: Creating a comprehensive troubleshooting and best-practice guide for your reviewers to have on-hand is a great way to give your committees the tools they need to succeed.  We have plenty of clients who are willing to provide examples of their FAQ’s to help you create your own.
  6. Use Single Sign-On: If your reviewers are faculty members, you can utilize your campus Single Sign-On for a simplified and more secure login portal.  Simply prepare a list of your reviewers’ emails and campus IDs and reach out to the Support team to set up that process!
  7. Provide training: We recommend using multiple channels of communication to help onboard your reviewers.  This can include in-person workshops, how-to videos, and step-by-step guides.  Never feel as though you are providing your reviewers with too many resources. 
  8. Assign champions to each committee: Reviewer Chair roles can be assigned to department heads or donors, to provide an extra layer of decision-making to your committees.  They also have the ability to monitor their reviewers to keep your timelines on track.  For more information on Reviewer Chairs, please Click Here.
  9. Provide refreshers each year: We are constantly adding new tools and features to further streamline the reviewing process.  Be on the lookout for new enhancements and build them into your reviewing and training process.
  10. Be prepared for incomplete reviews: Despite having all of your ducks in a row, you will still likely have incomplete reviews by the end of the review period.  You can mitigate the effects of incomplete reviews in several ways. First, you can assign enough reviews per application to ensure that all applicants have at least one review present. Also, create “backup” reviewers to complete extra reviews. Finally, leave enough buffer time to extend your review period.

Additional Resources
  • For specific functionality-related questions, please contact our Support team at 888-376-4252 Ext. 2 or email
  • For more information on the tips listed above and more, please check out our Reviewing Best Practices webinar by Clicking Here.
  • For additional articles and resources, please visit, where you will also find an active community of your peers who can offer best-practice suggestions and share their reviewer experiences.
  • For more comprehensive training options, please visit our Blackbaud University page here.
Posted by Mike Weisman on Nov 12, 2018 2:56 PM America/New_York

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