How to Start a Scholarship Fund

By Renee Gerber , last updated January 13, 2012

Starting your own scholarship fund is a great way to earn and collect money for a truly great cause. You will be benefiting young people who want to attend an educational institution of higher education, whether it be a college, university or vocational school where they can learn a valuable skill. These individuals often would otherwise not be able to attend school due to a financial hardship, but you will feel absolutely wonderful in knowing that you are helping these young men and women to achieve their dreams. Of course, there are a few necessary steps you will have to undertake in order to create your scholarship fund before people can benefit from it.

First and foremost, you should take the time to think about how you want your scholarship fund to operate. You can choose for the money you put aside to go toward students who want to attend one particular institution of higher learning, or you can create a private foundation that will benefit students who want to attend any school of their choosing. Your scholarship fund can be either a private fund (one that receives funds from one person) or a public charity (one that receives donations from multiple sources), as this is all up to you to decide.

Next, you will have to decide how much money you want to use with which to start off your scholarship fund. One thing to keep in mind is that all funds and foundations usually start off with a fairly sizeable operating fund, anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000. Once it starts to become known, schools of higher learning might even want to contribute some money toward it.

Of course, you will also have to give your scholarship fund a name. It is usually a good idea to name it after a student you know (perhaps the one who inspired the scholarship fund in the first place), or you can name the fund after someone close to you that has passed away. As you are setting things up, you should make sure everything adheres to the rules as pertaining to the Internal Revenue Service's guidelines for charities.

Make sure you decide on some rules and regulations as to who will be eligible for the scholarship your fund will offer. Many scholarship funds choose recipients based on grade point average, race, school choice, or financial difficulties. You will of course also have to hire some board members and other staff who will oversee the day-to-day operation of your scholarship, either alongside you or as primary caretakers, if you choose to be a silent owner or partner. Another important aspect you will have to consider when preparing to start operation of your scholarship fund is to decide exactly how much money will be given to the recipient or recipients. Often, a scholarship fund will give money to more than one student (usually three), where the top choice receives the greatest amount of scholarship money while the remaining individuals get a lesser amount toward their studies.

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