How to Set Up a Scholarship Memorial Foundation

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Setting up a scholarship memorial fund allows you to remember a loved one in a way that ensures future students have the funding to attend a college or university. There are many things to consider before setting up a memorial scholarship, from who will be eligible, to whether the scholarship will be offered at one school, or many. Before a memorial scholarship fund can ever help a single student though, money must be raised to apply toward recipients' schooling.

  • Hire a lawyer to help process your 501(c)3 paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service. A skilled lawyer will ensure your paperwork is completed correctly and deal with any issues that arise during the filing process. This is an important first step if you must raise money for the scholarship fund.

  • Define the eligibility criteria applicants must meet to qualify for the scholarship. The Council on Foundations recommends keeping the eligibility criteria flexible. For example, give a range of grade point averages that are eligible for the scholarship, instead of a specific GPA.

  • Complete a trust document once the eligibility criteria are determined. Your trust document will outline the eligibility criteria, how recipients are selected, the duration of each award and whether the award can be renewed for additional semesters.

  • Begin fundraising efforts for the memorial scholarship fund. Charity dinners, auctions and corporate sponsorships are a few ways to raise money for scholarship funds. You need a minimum of $25,000 to successfully start a scholarship fund, according to the Council on Foundations.

  • Set up a committee to help run the memorial fund. The committee will select recipients and help coordinate future fundraising efforts.

  • Advertise your scholarship with scholarship listing websites. If your memorial scholarship is for only one school, contact that school's financial aid department with information about the scholarship and copies of the necessary application.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are agencies that will run your memorial scholarship fund for you once it is set up. An outside agency is a logical choice if running the fund yourself is not feasible.
  • While you can apply for 501(c)3 status on your own, the paperwork is very long and detailed. If you are unsure of the filing process, you could find yourself waiting a very long time before the paperwork is completed to IRS standards.

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