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09/04/2019

How do I start a scholarship for my church?

QUESTION
How do I start a scholarship for my church?
I would like to start a academic scholarship for my church. The target goal is to offer about 4,000 dollars yearly to the graduating high school student with the highest grades.

ANSWER
Your church already has a 5013-C on file with the IRS, so that hurdle has been jumped. That makes you a non-profit with no taxes to pay. Announce your intention to the congregation and ask for donations. Figure out some fund raisers such as car washes, bake sales or whatever. It’s too late for Lent this year, but our church had mid-week services for lent. Different organizations within the church took different weeks and provided a soup and salad supper. People who came donated whatever they thought appropriate. Each person who contributed made a crock pot of soup and donated that. Our choir made $1500 one night. The youth group had similar success. The services were well attended,friendly and close. You might want to think about something like that.

You probably want to raise as much money as possible and start off with maybe smaller scholarships. The goal would be to raise enough money so the interest on your bank accounts/investments etc. would pay for the scholarships. With today’s interest rates, you will need to raise a lot of money to do that.

You will want to think about what your criteria will be, and how you will handle two 4.0 students who have been accepted into Yale or whatever. Will you require an essay, an interview, a letter of acceptance into a college. Will you make your check out to the college, the recipient or both. If you make it out to just the recipient, you might want to require receipts from the college or the bookstore(s) or whatever.

Open a separate bank account for the scholarship foundation. None of the church’s general funds can be mixed in legally with the scholarship money.

I’ve worked on one of these for the past seven years. There are a lot of details but it’s worth it.