How to Start a Memorial Scholarship Fund

How to Start a Memorial Scholarship Fund
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Most memorial scholarship funds are set up by family members. A direct contact to one person is necessary for communication between the fund administrators and family. Most colleges and universities have staff that is available to assist with the creation of a memorial scholarship fund. Have a written plan prepared to present to the institution for assistance. The plan should include a name for the fund with a brief biography about the person for whom the fund is named.


Establish the structure and provisions of the memorial scholarship fund, starting with the name. Then, whom do you want to benefit from the fund? List the fields of study, if any, that you want to make as a requirement. How much do you want the scholarship to be and how many do you want to issue each year? Scholarships can be issued to high school graduates from a particular school; a certain GPA or income might be an eligibility requirement.

Compose a mission statement that will clearly outline the goals and purpose of the fund. This statement will keep the fund focused and give the institutions an understanding of what is expected.

Decide if the fund is to be an endowment that will continue indefinitely or an annual fund that will exist from year to year. An endowment fund keeps the principal secure and issues scholarships on interest and additional donations that have been collected.

Decide what institution you want to administer the fund. Usually the institution that the deceased attended at some time in his life is the best choice. When a choice of institution has been made, you can approach the administration to set up the fund.

Begin your most difficult task -- gathering funds. Funds can be solicited through an obituary notice stating that in lieu of flowers donations can be sent to a specific bank fund or directly to the college. A fundraiser can be held, anything from a simple gathering to a golf tournament or walk-a-thon. Most scholarship funds start with $25,000.

According to the Foundation Center, certain guidelines are set by the IRS governing scholarship funds. Some of those guidelines are: donors cannot specify their funds to a particular recipient; officers of the fund or administrators or family member cannot benefit from the fund; government officials cannot benefit from the fund; funds must be based on an objective such as tuition payments for one year. It must also include a broad charitable class such as any engineering student as opposed to an engineering student that lives on a particular street.

Contact the IRS for any regulations or requirements that can affect the memorial scholarship fund. Most institutions can be of assistance in this area.


  • Seek the advice of the educational institution. Enlisting the help of others can assist with fund raising


  • Follow IRS rules for setting up a scholarship fund