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Require applicants to pay for the submission prior to starting the submission form
Require applicants to pay for the submission prior to starting the submission form

Also known as pay-first or register-first workflow.

Zack Schwartz avatar
Written by Zack Schwartz
Updated over a week ago

Most customers do not need this special workflow. If you think this might be something you would want to make use of, talk to your support representative.

What is Pay First workflow?

Depending on the type of program you are running, you may need to consider a “pay-first” workflow. This means that users submit very basic information, such as their name and project title, and pay for their submission first. After this initial payment, the applicant can then submit the materials for their project at a later date. This is considered “demonstrating your intent to submit” or “registering for the competition” – essentially requiring a deposit on the submission.

Why use it?

Why would someone make use of pay-first? This is very popular among design and architecture programs, or programs where physical entries must be mailed in. Quite often, the project itself is not complete at the time the call for submissions is announced, but the applicants must indicate that they will participate in the program ahead of time. This gives the program managers time to coordinate their efforts. When the applicant has finished their project, they can submit their materials at their leisure (prior to the materials deadline of course).


The easiest way to set this up is to start with the pre-made template available when you start a new program.

However, it is possible to configure the same setup if you start from scratch, or need to modify an existing program. A pay-first configuration is actually just two consecutive Submission + Judging rounds. Once you have two consecutive Submission + Judging rounds added, navigate to your program.

Make sure you are on your first round by clicking the round in the drop down menu.

Under Round Settings, click Advanced.

Ensure that the option to Automatically forward all submissions to the next round is selected.

How does this work?

The first round submission form should just ask the basic information such as demographic details, the category the applicant is submitting to, and the submission title. The applicant will submit this information and pay at this point. With the automatically forward submissions option selected, OpenWater will take this initial submission and forward it to your subsequent Submission + Judging round automatically. 

You should configure the submission form for this second round to ask the applicant for all the meat and potatoes for the submission that you require. The applicant can return to OpenWater at any time and find their submission under Needs Attention on the public website, where they can proceed to submit these materials.

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