The undisputed alumni recognition award workflow

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The Undisputed Alumni Recognition Award Workflow

The significance of alumni recognition programs cannot be overstated. These programs serve as a vital bridge connecting alumni with community. Each association, while unique in its approach, shares common goals and challenges. Reviewr’s latest webinar delved deep into these aspects, aiming to shed light on the latest industry trends, confront the challenges head-on, and explore innovative solutions in the field of alumni recognition and engagement.

Welcome to the “Undisputed Alumni Recognition Award Workflow”, a comprehensive guide to hosting alumni recognition awards that not only streamline program management operations, but also enhances the experience for alumni and stakeholders.

Based on a decade of experience powering alumni recognition awards for some of the most prestigious alumni associations and institutions globally – Reviewr is excited to introduce the proven and repeatable process to build a stronger alumni network, enhance alumni engagement, honor achievements, and enrich alumni database records- all through alumni award such as a 40 under 40 program.

Table of Contents
  1. The nominator workflow
  2. The nominee workflow
  3. Alumni database enrichment
  4. Assigning nominees to committees
  5. Creating a fair, non-bias, equitable, and compliant selection process
  6. Post gala engagement
The Alumni Recognition Landscape

The ultimate alumni recognition award workflow begins with a thorough understanding of the varied approaches to alumni engagement and recognition across different associations. The primary objective of these programs is clear: to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of alumni, thus nurturing a sense of belonging and a continuous connection with their alma mater.

Step 1: Optimizing Workflows for Nominators and Nominees

A vital aspect of the workflow is the meticulous refinement of roles for nominators and nominees. It’s crucial to establish distinct responsibilities for these two groups to streamline the entire process. This step is about enhancing the program’s visibility and increasing nominee engagement. Simplifying the nomination procedure aims to widen participation, while a detailed approach for nominees is designed to secure accurate and extensive data. This dual approach ensures that every participant’s effort contributes meaningfully to the program’s success.

The Nominator Workflow

Increasing volume and lowering the barrier to submit is the name of the game for nominators. It’s essential to make the nomination form short, simple, and sweet to generate maximum volume which in return leads to increased nominee participation. Let’s take a look.

  • Peer submitted nomination process
  • What is the least amount of data needed?
    • If you’re not going to use it, don’t collect it.
  • Who are you nominating, what are you nominating them for, and why.
    • Don’t worry – we’ll be collecting the bulk of the data from the nominee later.
  • Consider optional fields
    • Testimonials, references, videos, etc
    • Great marketing collateral to be used later for gala celebration. 
  • All year nomination process.
    • Always. Be. Collecting.
    • While there will be a cyclical nature in the actual awarding of award recipients, we want to always be collecting deserving nominee nominations that can then be used to invite to the process for the next cycle.
  • Complete nominations trigger the nominee experience.
    • Either automatically notify the nominees of their nomination and to begin their formal “application” or trigger this later.
    • Triggers can be automatic, manual, and/or anonymous. 
    • The goal is for the nominator to “start” the process and then the nominee “finish” with the unique data that must be collected by them specifically.
Sample nominator nomination form:

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The Nominee Workflow

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. The primary goal of splitting the nomination workflow into two parts is to ensure that we a) put the bulk of the work on the nominee themselves, b) ensure that the content being captured is both current/accurate, and c) provide a one-to-one engagement between alumni associations and their alumni. So what does this look like? Let’s explore.

  • Balanced and fair
    • By reviewing/evaluating only the content submitted by the alumni nominee we can ensure that nominees are provided a fair review and the quality of the nomination itself is not a reflection of the nominee.
    • Again, nominations lead to applications and applications are what gets reviewed.
  • Data accuracy and enrichment
    • Who knows more about the nominee than the nominees themselves?
    • Capture updated personal details, addresses, jobs, etc.
    • Resumes
  • Personality
    • While personal accolades and career achievements are certainly notable, we need to place an equal emphasis on the less tangible such as community impact, volunteer, personal stories, etc.
    • Consider videos
      • The barrier to submit increase when you layer in video content but this can either be optional or saved for the finalists/winners.
  • Personal engagements
    • Opt in for future communications
Sample alumni nominee application

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The Power of Data in Alumni Engagement

Data collection stands as a crucial component of this workflow. Gathering precise and relevant information from nominees serves a dual purpose: it’s essential to the awards process and valuable in enriching alumni records on a broader scale. By simply leveraging content captured from the nominees such as current addresses, job titles, companies, etc we now have enriched data to be used for alumni engagement scoring and more, influencing various facets of university relations from personalized communication to strategic fundraising efforts. It transforms alumni data into a powerful tool for nurturing long-term relationships and community building.

Assigning nominees to committees

Pairing alumni nominees with review committees can be accomplished quite a few different ways depending on goals. Regardless of method we need to incorporate two themes:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Fairness

So, what are the different methods/philosophies around pairing nominees with review teams?

  • Award categories
  • Phases
  • Randomization
  • Committees/teams


At Reviewr, we believe in a combination of these methods to ensure streamlined operations as well as ensuring volunteers can fairly provide the selection experience desired by the applicants. 

  • Leverage a phased review
    • Phase one should consist of an internal vetting process
    • Yay or Nay piles
      • Yay or Nays can be done with a simple yes/no or leverage a basic scoresheet.
    • Split the workload
      • This keeps staff fresh and efficient while also ensuring a second (or third, or fourth) set of eyes.
      • Randomize
        • Regardless of how the workloads are split we want to randomly distribute the nominations to the vetting team.
  • Due Diligence
    • Nominations, applications, and evaluations don’t always tell the full story.
    • When nominees are recognized we must ensure they are the embodiment of the institutional mission and values.
    • Consider doing due diligence with:
      • Background checks
      • Personal research
      • Alumni engagement history
    • Note: due diligence is not something needed for all nominees – only the finalists prior to selection.
  • Committee review
    • Scorecard centric
      • We want to ensure a fair, non-bias, selection which means leveraging mathematical based scorecards with actual quantitative data
      • Scorecards can be simple, but we want to at least have some type of formal judging justification.
    • 3-5 committee members per nominee
      • Randomize the nominees that get assigned to review committees
      • Nominees should be reviewed by no less than 3 random committee members. Note: This math will be dependent upon the total number of reviewable nominations received and the size of the review committee.
      • Blind the data
        • Review committees should have personal identifiable information, addresses, etc blinded from their view.
        • Judging and selection should be merit and content based – not by the persons name. The goal is to eliminate any and all potential bias.
    • Consider a final deliberation review
      • While scores and evaluations often can tell a story – it may not be the full story.
      • Consider a roundtable discussion where the top ranked candidates are discussed. It’s possible a particular committee member has a strong feeling over one and this feedback should be acknowledged.

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Creating a fair, non-bias, equitable, and compliant selection process

We’ve already briefly mentioned leveraging scorecards as a way to mathematically measure results to quickly rank the candidates as well as to ensure a non-bias selection – but what does this actually look like?

  • At its core the review process needs to be short, sweet, and impactful. Often times individuals conducting reviews have either a) other job obligations or b) are volunteering time. This means we need to empower them to stay efficient while also granting the time and energy deserved by the nominees.
  • First and foremost – blind the data.
    • The review committee should be evaluating based on the content and not based on personal identifiable information about the nominee.
    • While initial vetting phases this may not be necessary, we do want to ensure blinding for scorecard reviews.
  • Phase 1 review for vetting
    • Yay or Nay
    • Does this candidate fit the institutional vision and mission. 
    • Are they embodiment of what it means to be a “insert your mascot here”.
    • The goal is to take the full list of nominees and narrow it down to a number where additional due diligence can be done as well as evaluate.
    • The review committees do not have the time, or energy, to evaluate every single nominee. The vetting process should keep this in mind so only those that the committee should review will see.
Sample phase 1 review criteria.

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  • Phase 2+ review
    • Leverage quantitative evaluation criteria. 
    • Review committees fill out scoresheets and the tabulations do the rest.
    • Evaluation scoresheets should not just be on career trajectory or “status”.
    • Think about community impact, social, institutional mission and beliefs.
    • Again, does this candidate best reflect what it means to be a “insert mascot name”.
Sample phase 2 review criteria #1

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Sample phase 2 review criteria #2

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Leveraging Post-Program Opportunities

This comprehensive workflow extends its focus beyond the conclusion of the award program. It strategically uses the data and engagement accrued during the program as a launching pad for deeper involvement in university alumni activities. The aim is to transform the immediate success of the program into long-term engagement opportunities. These programs significantly influence ongoing alumni relations and can create increased donorship, making them a cornerstone in the broader narrative of university-alumni relations. By effectively capitalizing on post-program opportunities, the workflow ensures that the impact of the alumni awards resonates far beyond the ceremony, contributing to a vibrant, engaged, and supportive alumni community.


In our recent talk about alumni recognition programs, we learned how essential these programs are for maintaining strong ties between universities and their alumni. These programs do much more than just celebrate what alumni have achieved previously; they play a crucial role in creating a community where alumni feel connected and involved. This, in turn, improves the university’s reputation and prepares it for a brighter future. By improving the way nominations are handled, using data to engage alumni more deeply, and applying strategies after the program ends, these initiatives become powerful tools for keeping alumni engaged over the long term. Continually updating and refining alumni recognition approaches is not only important for acknowledging the achievements of individuals but also for shaping the ongoing legacy and success of educational institutions.

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