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How to Set up a Scholarship Fund in Memory of Someone

Editorial Team
Updated Dec 11, 2023
scholarship fund

If you want a meaningful way to preserve the legacy of a loved one who has passed away, you could create a memorial scholarship fund in their name. A scholarship can significantly change the recipient’s life for the better and give them the chance to pursue their higher education goals. By establishing a scholarship fund in the name of your loved one, you can create a positive, lasting legacy for them.

What Is A Memorial Scholarship Fund?

A memorial scholarship is a charitable grant made in the name of someone who has passed away. Sometimes the award is funded by the deceased person’s estate, but there are other ways to raise funds. For example, you may want to allow other family members to contribute to a fund that you started in a loved one’s name.

Most academic scholarship recipients are undergraduate college students, but you can also start scholarship programs for master’s degree or doctoral candidates. Another option is to give the funds to graduates who are paying off student debt. An endowed scholarship is usually tied to a particular school, such as the loved one’s alma mater, but this isn’t the only option for a memorial scholarship.

Many people choose to honor the memory of a loved one by giving deserving students funds for their college education. It’s a way to keep a loved one’s memory alive and also make a positive difference by investing in future generations. Plus, you can receive tax benefits for this type of charitable giving. A scholarship program is a meaningful way to ensure your loved one’s legacy positively impacts the world.

How To Start A Memorial Scholarship Fund In Four Steps

Setting up a scholarship program may seem intimidating, but there are just a few steps to the process.

1. Think About Your Priorities

If you’ve decided to honor someone who has passed away through an educational scholarship fund, the first step is deciding exactly how you want to do it. This award will be part of your loved one’s legacy, and you want to make sure it honors their memory most honestly and respectfully.

Providing an education for a deserving student in your loved one’s name can have a significant long-term impact, especially if that student’s life or future career aligns with your loved one’s values. You can choose selection criteria to narrow down the field of applicants to individuals who you feel your loved one would want to support.

If you are memorializing someone who loved sports, for example, you could create a merit-based scholarship for an athlete. An award for future medical students could be a meaningful way to honor someone who passed away from a disease. Funding a student from your loved one’s local area can honor their name in that community for generations to come.

There are numerous memorial scholarships in existence, and you can use these as inspiration for your own award. Spend some time to look through the funds on Bold.org. You can see many different ways people have used this platform to honor the memory of someone they loved.

2. Decide On The Specifics

Once you’ve solidified the emotional aspects of your award, it’s time to decide on the practicalities. How much do you want the award to be worth? Most scholarship organizations recommended a minimum of $500, but larger scholarships can be more impactful for students, especially those with significant financial need. Opening up the fund to other donors will probably allow you to increase the amount.

Next, you need to decide who you want to help. Do you want to set up a need-based grant or one based on merit? Each type has unique benefits. For a memorial scholarship program, think about which type of selection criteria your loved one would find most meaningful.

Is your award going to be open to current college students or high school students who are making their plans for higher education? Maybe you want to support graduate students or those in medical school.

The eligibility criteria you decide on will likely affect the application process. For example, you might want to ask recipients to write a personal essay about how they would use their degree or why they want to study a particular subject. Some scholarships request video essays or require applicants to have completed a certain number of community service hours.

how to create a memorial scholarship

3. Make It Official

With all the details decided upon, it’s time to establish your scholarship program. Because a scholarship is a type of grant (money given to a student as a gift that they don’t need to pay back), donations can be tax-deductible. However, there is quite a bit of paperwork involved to establish tax-exempt status if you plan to host and manage the scholarship yourself.

To manage the fund yourself, you need to create a nonprofit or establish a private foundation. Or a local community foundation might be able to host the scholarship program. If you create your own organization, you have to notify the state and federal government, get approval for your selection process, and keep detailed records of all your activities and finances. You also need to provide tax documents to your donors.

Once you’ve established your foundation or nonprofit, you need to get the word out about your scholarship. This could mean creating a website, paying for advertising, and setting up a method of collecting and reviewing applications. Don’t forget that you need to decide on a deadline as well. All these steps are often more than one person can accomplish alone.

It’s much easier to create your memorial scholarship with Bold.org. This platform is entirely free to use, so 100% of your money goes directly to the award recipient. It’s also free for candidates to apply and for donors to contribute to your fund. Because Bold.org is an established nonprofit, it already has all the tax deduction processes in place.

4. Award The Money

No matter how you decide to set up and manage your award, the final step is to choose the candidate you want to give the money to. If you manage everything on your own, you’ll need to review all the applications before making a decision.

If you use Bold.org, the process is more time-efficient. The organization has a team of reviewers who go through all the applications using your selection criteria and narrow down the field to the most qualified candidates. Then you can make the final decision, choosing the applicant who best fulfills the criteria for your memorial scholarship.

After you decide on the winner, you need to disperse the funds. According to the IRS, grant money must be used for direct educational expenses, such as tuition and textbooks. Other acceptable uses are to help a student achieve a specific goal or improve a skill, such as musical performance.

In most cases, the funds go directly to the student’s educational institution. You may also choose to have your award applied to the recipient’s student loans. A management service like Bold.org handles the payout for you and ensures the money goes to the right place.

How To Raise Money For A Memorial Scholarship Fund

There are several ways to raise money for your memorial scholarship. You could contribute some of the funds yourself. If the person you’re honoring left an inheritance, you could use their estate to fund the scholarship program.

You can also build a scholarship fund through donations. For a scholarship in someone’s name, you may want to talk to people close to that person and ask if they would like to contribute to the fund.

You can accept donations from individuals if you create a nonprofit or private foundation for your scholarship program. If you don’t want to manage that sort of organization yourself, you can use a scholarship management service such as Bold.org, which takes care of all the nonprofit and tax-exempt paperwork for you and your donors.

How To Boost Your Memorial Scholarship Fund

When you create your memorial scholarship fund, you can decide if you want to accept donations for the fund. By accepting donations, you can increase the amount of the memorial fund or simply choose to put it in your donor account and use it for future scholarship funds.

Most memorial funds require a minimum donation amount to start the memorial fund, but then a different minimum donation amount is set for any individuals who wish to donate.

You receive a unique URL that you will be able to share with family, friends or through social media to draw traffic to your memorial fund. Sometimes family members receive the URLs early enough so they can post them in the obituary or funeral literature so that they can reach an even larger crowd.

It is great to generate as much awareness as possible around the memorial fund and the overall goal of the fund. With more donations and available funds, the more you can do. You have the option to increase the number of students you can provide scholarships to, or you can even provide a great scholarship to the specific student you selected in memory of your loved one.

Things To Consider When Starting A Memorial Scholarship Fund

memorial scholarship considerations

Establishing a memorial scholarship can be an emotional experience that requires a lot of thought. Here are some essential things to consider.

1. The Memory Of Your Loved One

Setting up a scholarship in someone’s name is a wonderful way to honor their memory. The first thing to think about is how you want to remember your loved one through this educational grant. Many people determine the award’s eligibility requirements based on the person’s values, career, or goals.

For example, if the person you’re honoring was passionate about helping children of immigrants attend college, the memorial scholarship could focus on this type of applicant. You may choose to honor a religious person with a scholarship program that provides money for a student to attend seminary.

If one of your goals is to create a meaningful legacy for someone, you could use the scholarship to encourage people to positively impact the world. For example, you might design an award for students who want to solve the energy crisis or people who intend to use their degree to serve low-income communities.

2. The Students You Want To Support

After you think about what you want the memorial scholarship to stand for, you need to decide who you want to award the money. Scholarships can go to high school seniors (or even juniors) to use when they go to college. You can also award the money to current undergrad students or those pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate.

Do you want to award the funds based on financial need? This can be a great way to give a student who can’t afford college tuition the chance to attend without taking on excessive debt. Creating a scholarship for low-income students can help them and also their families maintain financial stability without sacrificing the dream of higher education. Students can also use the scholarship funds to further improve on grades or test scores like working with private tutors or SAT math tutors.

Another option is to select a recipient based on merit. You can give the money to someone who has excellent grades or top-level athletic talent. Merit-based scholarships can also be given to students who excel in a specific area, such as music or art.

3. The Best Funding Options

While it is an emotional decision, setting up a memorial scholarship is also a financial one. Before you start the paperwork to create your award, you need to figure out how you want to fund it. This is especially important if you plan to make the grant available for several years to come.

Maybe you want to fund the scholarship entirely out of your own wealth, which is certainly a viable option. Many memorial scholarships are funded fully or in part by the person’s estate. If you choose to use an inheritance or your loved one’s estate to fund your award, make sure to discuss the particulars with an estate attorney or tax professional.

If you want to increase the amount of the award beyond what is possible with your funds or inheritance, you can open it up to donations. With a memorial scholarship, there may be many family and friends who want to contribute as a way to honor their loved one. You can also accept donations from others as long as you go through the proper steps to establish a private foundation or nonprofit. An easier option is to use scholarship management services.

4. The Most Efficient Management Strategy

Establishing a memorial scholarship can take a lot of paperwork, especially if you plan to manage everything yourself. Even after you have created the award, ongoing oversight is still required. You need to advertise it, create a method of accepting applications, and go through the work to review the candidates, select a winner, and disperse the funds. Depending on the size of your fund and the number of applicants, this could be a full-time job.

If you aren’t sure you want to take on all the administrative work of the memorial fund yourself, you could always hire assistants. If you hire people through your nonprofit or private foundation, make sure to follow all the relevant laws. These can be complicated for tax-exempt organizations, so it’s best to consult with an attorney.

There are also management services for scholarships. Some of these organizations charge a hefty fee, but others are free. Before you choose one, make sure you understand all the potential costs and that you know exactly how they will manage your award. For example, will you get the make the final decision on the recipient?

5. Selecting Scholarship Winners

One of the most important things to figure out is how you want to choose the winner of your scholarship. Many awards have a scholarship committee that works together to review applications and choose the best candidates. Without this type of support team, it can be overwhelming to try to go through and review each application on your own.

Generally, you have a lot of freedom in deciding how you want to award your scholarship. While you can target a particular group of students for the award (e.g. minority students), the IRS requires you to leave the award open enough that it’s not considered discriminatory. Your tax advisor may have more details on how to make sure your donation is tax-deductible.

6. Deciding on a Scholarship Platform

There are several options for setting up your scholarship on an existing platform. This is generally a better idea than trying to host it yourself. With an established online platform, it’s much easier for potential candidates to find and apply for your award. Plus, the best scholarships websites takes care of all the donation paperwork so you have what you need to file your taxes.

One of the advantages of setting up your award at Bold.org is that you get an entire team to help you. The donor team works with you to develop the criteria for your memorial scholarship and then helps you select the right candidate. Experts review each application based on the eligibility requirements you have set. Once the reviewers create the lists of finalists, you can study each application and work with the donor team to select the candidate.

7. Scholarship Frequency

Another thing to think about when creating a scholarship is how often you want to give out the award. Do you want to create a one-time award with funding from a loved one’s estate or your personal money? You can also set up a recurring scholarship that is available to recipients on an annual or bi-annual basis.

How Long Will This Memorial Fund Exist?

When setting up a memorial fund, one thing you must consider and consider ahead of time is how long you intend to give the grant to students. Sometimes planning small details about a memorial fund can seem overwhelming, but the details are critical to making the fund run smoothly and achieve your goals.

The vital question of the longevity of the memorial is necessary because it includes many moving factors when it comes to making a budget and seeking out donations. You can decide whether you would just like to give the grant once or for the next five years.

Once that is decided, the appropriate planning can take place. However, once you decide, you will be able to plan a long-term plan and think about other considerations, such as if you should get help to oversee the memorial fund and how many donations you will need to collect for each grant. 

You will also know how many students you will be able to give to each time and can give out the grants accordingly.

Regardless of the timeline you decide, your grant will be appreciated and touch the lives of students who might not have been able to afford education on their own and will honor your loved one's legacy and memory.

Another important consideration is the number of students you plan to help with the memorial scholarship. Will they receive the monetary gift each year, each semester, or as a one-time gift? This consideration is so important because it can affect your budget.

When you go into planning a memorial fund with a long-term plan, you will know precisely how many students you can help and how often. You will need to decide on the plan's longevity and how donations will be split if you plan to help multiple students at a time instead of just one.

This critical consideration can sometimes be overlooked but is very important to discuss with your loved ones as you create your memorial scholarship fund. Well thought out details lead to great results with memorial funds.

When creating a memorial fund for public or private colleges, it is essential to consider the longevity of the grant and how it will affect the budget and donations. Deciding on a timeline, whether it be a one-time grant or a five-year grant, will allow for proper planning and execution of the scholarship. Additionally, determining the frequency of the grant and the number of students to be helped is crucial in making the most impact with your loved one's legacy. With careful consideration and planning, your memorial scholarship fund can make a significant difference in the lives of students, helping them to achieve their educational goals and honor the memory of your loved one.

Memorial Scholarship Ideas And Examples

If you think you may want to start a memorial scholarship but aren’t sure of the details, find inspiration in these examples from Bold.org.

1. Eric C. Egan Memorial Scholarship

This award was created to honor the memorial of Eric Egan, who passed away at age 14 due to complications from cancer treatments. The award is designed to honor Eric’s memory and is open to any high school student who is being or has been treated for cancer. The $500 award is intended to be used toward post-secondary educational expenses, and the applicant must provide a personal statement about their experience with cancer.

2. Carmen V. McMillian Memorial Scholarship

Established in honor of an aspiring missionary, this $500 award is offered to a student who wants to follow the same career path. Carmen passed away at 17 before she was able to enroll in her intended missionary studies degree program, and this scholarship is designed to encourage others to fulfill her dream. Applicants must write a personal essay about their desire to be a missionary.

3. Demetrius Mack Pay it Forward Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship is open to high school and undergrad students in the Atlanta, GA, area. The $1,250 fund is split equally between two winners. Intended to encourage students to improve their communities, this memorial award focuses on the idea of giving back. All candidates must submit an essay about “paying it forward,” discussing how they plan to give back to their communities.

How To Start A Scholarship Fund Today

how to create a memorial scholarship

1. Set Up Your Donor Profile

The first step is to create a personal profile on the Bold.org site. To do this, you will complete a short quiz about yourself (or your family, company, or college or community foundation). You’ll need to list your geographical location, name, email, and password. You’ll also need to verify your email address before continuing.

2. Develop and Submit Your Scholarship Proposal

Once you’ve established your profile, the next step is to create your award. With Bold.org, you don’t need to know the exact details of your scholarship right away. Start with the basics, like how much money you want to donate. If you know what type of students you want to target or what you will be looking for in scholarship applications, you can provide those details in your proposal.

3. Discuss Your Award With the Bold.org Philanthropy Team

Once you’ve submitted your proposal, you can schedule a short call with the donor team at Bold.org. These experts will take your rough outline and help you turn it into a complete scholarship award. The team can answer your questions about memorial gifts and raising funds. You can also access additional resources to figure out exactly what you want your award to look like.

4. Fund the Award

When your scholarship proposal has been approved, you can fund it. Remember that you can contribute all the funds yourself or together with a family member. Other options are to open it up to donations from community members or to hold fundraising events. As soon as the award is funded, it will become live on the Bold.org site so students can apply and other donors can contribute.

A memorial scholarship is a fantastic way to honor someone’s memory and improve life for others. With Bold.org, creating an award is simple and free.

Bold.org handles all the tax paperwork, advertises the award to potential candidates, accepts applications, and distributes the money. Best of all, you don’t pay any fees for this administrative work, nor do the students who apply. Establish your memorial scholarship today at Bold.org.

How Soon Can I Get a Memorial Fund Up and Running

You would be surprised how quickly you can get a scholarship or memorial fund up and running. You just need to start the fund with a clear idea of who you want to help and the overall goal you would like to achieve with the scholarship fund.

However, the exact time frame depends on many moving factors, such as if you are going to set up the scholarship fund by yourself or if you plan to use a company to oversee the fund. Certain providers help make setting up a memorial or scholarship fund relatively quick and easy.

Sometimes using a company can even help you to have the fund ready and prepared to share at the funeral of your loved one to tell others about the fund and share their legacy. Using a company can also help reduce the amount of work and details you will have to oversee for the memorial fund, but if you are prepared, you can certainly tackle the challenge yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions On Memorial Scholarship Funds

Settup up a memorial scholarship is easier when you have the answers to common questions.

How does a memorial scholarship fund work?

In general, a scholarship fund provides a charitable grant that recipients use toward educational expenses. A memorial fund is usually set up as a way to honor someone who has passed away. With a memorial award, you can create a permanent reminder of your loved one and ensure their name is tied with a positive action that has a lasting impact on the world.

How to start a scholarship in memory of someone?

When you create a scholarship, you can decide what to call it. To establish an award in memory of someone, you can follow the steps outlined above to set up a scholarship and then name it after the person you want to honor.

Is a scholarship fund tax-deductible?

Donation to a scholarship provides great tax benefits – you can deduct your contribution from your taxes. To ensure your scholarship money is tax-exempt, make sure you follow the IRS rules for charitable organizations. You must select the recipient in a nondiscriminatory and objective manner.

Can anyone start a scholarship?

Yes. While some scholarships are created by a business, nonprofit organization, or community foundation, individuals may also create charitable funds.

How much does it cost to start a memorial scholarship fund?

Sometimes, the cost to set up a scholarship is higher than just the amount you contribute to the award. If you decide to establish a nonprofit organization or a private foundation for your scholarship, you’ll need to cover the cost of hiring a tax expert or attorney and pay any applicable registration fees.

Another option is to use a scholarship management service that handles all the administrative paperwork for you. Some of these services cost several thousands of dollars. However, it’s completely free to create a memorial scholarship on Bold.org, and there are no fees for donors or applicants either.

Editorial Team
By Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
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