How to Start a Scholarship Fund in 2022 – Is it Worth the Effort?
⏰ Updated December 2021
✍️ Written by Calvin Rosser
👩🎓 $17,500 in scholarships awarded
Wondering how to start a scholarship fund or a memorial scholarship? It’s easier than you think.
In this article, you’ll learn a simple process for creating a tax-deductible scholarship in just a few days. I’ve personally used this process to award $17,500 across 20 scholarships.
Whether you want to create a memorial scholarship in honor of a loved one who has passed or start a scholarship for an underrepresented student, setting up a scholarship is one of the most rewarding things you can do. And the good news is that it’s pretty easy to do with the process outlined below.
📍Before we dive in: If you already have an idea and want someone who can walk you through how to create the scholarship, consider using a scholarship management service like Bold.org. Otherwise, you can follow the 7 steps below to create a scholarship in a few days.
How to set up a scholarship fund in 7 steps
Step 1: Decide who you want to help.
The first step to starting a scholarship is thinking about who you want your grant to help. In general, start by choosing a group of people who you genuinely want to help. You can help students who are like a younger version of yourself, who are in underrepresented communities, or who are working on causes you care about.
Choosing a group that resonates with you will help you enjoy the process. For example, I’ve created scholarships for mental health awareness, black entrepreneurs, women in technology, first-generation students, and other causes I personally find important.
There is no “right” answer to what your scholarship program is about or who it is for.
Scholarships are awesome because you can customize and personalize the specific criteria for the grants in ways that resonate with you. Many people, for example, establish memorial scholarships to honor loved ones. Once you’ve decided on who to help, you need to think about your budget.
Step 2: Determine Your Budget
There is a common misconception that you need to create scholarships starting at $20,000+ to have an impact. This idea stops many people from creating scholarships. The reality is that you can start a scholarship for as little as $500, and that amount is meaningful to a student in need.
When thinking about your budget, ask yourself: How much money do you want to give and how often? For example, I decided early on that I want to give ~$5,000 per year through scholarships. Keep in mind that if you set up a scholarship correctly, all of your donations are tax-deductible.
When starting my first scholarship program, I chose a $1,000 award. That way, I could test if I liked giving scholarships. I now have nearly 15 scholarships, all of which award $500-$2,000 every year or every 6 months.
Step 3: Set your scholarship program deadlines.
With your scholarship idea and budget decided, think about when you want to award the scholarship. A good rule of thumb is to keep your scholarship open for 3-6 months to ensure that you allow students the time to apply and have a competitive applicant pool.
Many people wonder if they should award scholarships during a specific time of the year. The reality is that students apply to scholarships and grants all year round, and there is no “best” time for awarding the funds.
Step 4: Choose A scholarship management service.
Once you have an idea about who your scholarship program is for and how much you want to give, you can begin the scholarship creation process. If you’ve never done it before, you probably have many questions:
- 😵💫Do I need to start a non-profit? How do I raise funds? How will I find students? How do I manage applications? Are there legal considerations?
This point in the process can be overwhelming, and many people give up here. Thankfully, you don’t need to create a nonprofit or do everything on your own. There are platforms built for creating scholarships that take care of the logistical and administrative work for you.
By far, the best platform for creating and managing your scholarship is Bold.org. Bold is a platform that helps everyday people create scholarships with ease. It’s also the most popular platform for anyone who wants to create a memorial scholarship.
Step 5: Set up your scholarship program.
Go to Bold.org and get your scholarship set up on the platform. The site is pretty intuitive, but below are the basic steps in the process. You can get it live in a few days.
1. Create your donor profile. Go here and select “Create a scholarship fund.” You’ll answer a few basic questions to get your donor profile set up. Verify your email.
2. Submit your scholarship proposal. Once you’re logged in, you submit a proposal for your scholarship or grant with the rough details. The Bold team will help you clarify everything.
3. Schedule a call. Bold has you get on a 5-10 minute call with the philanthropy team. They answer all of your questions about the scholarship, process, and platform.
4. Fund your scholarship. Once your proposal is ready, you fund it. It goes live within an hour. At this point, students can apply, and you can share it with your network to get more donations.
You can also spend some time to secure additional scholarship funding if you need to, and Bold.org allows other people to donate to your scholarship program in a tax-deductible way.
Step 6: Promote your scholarship.
Once your scholarship is live, you can start sharing it. This is the fun part. Bold.org has a database of millions of students, and they promote your scholarship to all of the students who are eligible. This means that you’ll likely get many scholarship applications in the first week.
If you’d like to do additional promotion, consider sharing the scholarship on your social networks, with schools that have students, or with people you know who might be a good fit. It’s very common for people who create memorial scholarships to 5x their initial donation by sharing it with people who may want to contribute.
Step 7: Award the Scholarship.
Once your scholarship application deadline passes, you can review applicants. What’s helpful about Bold is that their team reviews your applications as they come in and recommend the best candidates based on the quality of the applications. You receive 10-50 recommended applicants.
So instead of reviewing 1,000 applications, you can review 25 to find a winner. When choosing finalists and a scholarship recipient, look for the students whose stories resonate with you. The best part about scholarships is that you get to give money directly to someone who you want to help.
Once you’ve reviewed applications, select the prospective winner. The Bold team will notify the winner and ensure that they receive the funds. You can connect with the winner if you’d like to chat.
🙌And that’s it! If you enjoyed your scholarship, you can renew it with the click of a button. You can also create new ones for different groups of people. It’s up to you.
Frequently asked questions about how to start scholarship funds
A scholarship fund is a grant that is awarded on an objective and nondiscriminatory basis to a student to pay for their direct educational costs, which include tuition, fees, course-related books, and other related educational expenses. You can set up a tax-deductible scholarship fund for as little as $500, despite many people claiming you need $20,000+ to start.
A scholarship management service is an organization that can help you take care of the logistics, distribution, and awarding of your scholarship. With a scholarship management service, you can avoid having to set up your own nonprofit and get your scholarship to the right students in just a few days. Bold.org is the best scholarship management service, though there are some others like GoingMerry.
Bold.org is the best and most legitimate scholarship management service. At no cost, they help everyday people and companies set up impactful and fully tax-deductible scholarships, grants, and fellowships for students. The company is used by hundreds of donors and has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to deserving students.
A scholarship fund is a financial award that is given to a student who exhibits the best application for a scholarship based on the criteria set forth by the scholarship fund. The award is then given to the student to pay for direct educational costs in order to reduce the financial burden of attending an institution of higher learning.
While you can set up scholarship funds for high school students for free with as little as $500, it’s important to know that the student won’t receive the funds until they enroll in a qualified institution of higher learning. Those funds will then be used to pay for their direct educational costs, so it’s best to set up a high school scholarship for high school seniors.
A common misconception is that you need $20-25 thousand to create a scholarship. The reality is that you can start a scholarship for as little as $500 every year if you do it with the right organization.
While setting up your own nonprofit scholarship funds can be a lengthy and expensive process, you can use an existing nonprofit organization that offers scholarship management services (like Bold.org) that allows you to create a scholarship fund for free. With their platform, you can focus on creating a scholarship for a qualified student and not worry about the hassle of starting a nonprofit.
A memorial scholarship fund is one of the best ways to honor and cement the legacy of a loved one that you’ve lost. It’s also a great way to engage friends, family members, and the community in finding ways to support you through the process of loss. The first step is to identify who you want to help and then follow this process for starting the memorial scholarship.
With Bold.org, you can create a scholarship program for as little as $500. You can then share that scholarship with friends, family, and your network to secure additional scholarship funding beyond your personal funds. All of their donations are tax-deductible and go toward directly increasing the award. You can also use platforms like GoFundMe, but they often have fees associated with raising funds.
As long as you set up a scholarship that goes toward paying direct educational costs (tuition, fees, and course-required books, or supplies and equipment) for a student in a qualified charitable class and award the scholarship program on an objective and nondiscriminatory basis, your scholarship is tax-deductible as the donor.
Anyone can start a scholarship fund for students in higher education or non-students to pay down student debt. You do not need to create a nonprofit organization to do so. The best way to start a scholarship is with an organization that facilitates the process for you.
Starting scholarships is the most rewarding form of giving that I’ve encountered. And with the technology available, it’s easier than ever to get started and begin helping people in need.
If it’s your first time, I’d consider using Bold.org because they make the process incredibly easy for you, which allows you to focus on the fun parts. As you think about getting started, you can check out these resources for ideas, feel free to check out what scholarships other people are creating here.