How to Create a Scholarship Fund in 8 steps

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Have you ever wondered how to start a scholarship fund? If done correctly, creating a scholarship can be very straightforward. Read below to learn more.

8 Steps for Starting a Scholarship Fund

  1. Create your free donor account
  2. Make a scholarship proposal
  3. Finalize the details
  4. Review the scholarship draft
  5. Fund the scholarship
  6. Review your applications
  7. Choose your finalists and winner(s)
  8. Awarding the scholarship

Click here to read common frequently asked questions regarding setting up a scholarship fund or you can watch the video below for the full step-by-step guided explanation:

Creating a scholarship can feel daunting. Do you set it up yourself or use a scholarship management service? With so many different options available to you, starting your first scholarship may feel impossible. Luckily, is specifically designed to make starting a scholarship as easy as possible. Follow the steps below to quickly and painlessly set up your first scholarship.

How to start a scholarship fund

Step 1: Create Your Donor Account

The first step in the process is to create a donor account. Creating a donor account is completely free and will allow you to create and fund scholarship proposals with the help of the donor team. You can make your profile as detailed or simple as you’d like, including having the option of adding a profile picture and a mission statement.

Through your statement, you can give applicants a sense of who you are and what inspired you to become a scholarship donor. Whether you’re donating as an individual, a family, or a company, your donor account will allow you to outline your goals and connect with applicants.

Any funds or scholarships that you launch will be accessible through your profile, and letters you receive from your future scholarship winners will also be viewable on your page. Additionally, your account will allow you to track your number of scholarships, the total amount of money you’ve awarded, how many winners you’ve selected, and all of the contributions you’ve received.

Click here to create your free donor account today!

Step 2: Make a Scholarship Proposal

Once you have set up your account, you'll be prompted to submit your first proposal. You'll have the opportunity to edit this information later, but your proposal will give our donor team an idea of what you're hoping to accomplish and who you're trying to help with your scholarship.

Depending on your financial plan, you also have the option of creating a fund through before launching a scholarship. By starting a fund, you’ll have a unique page on which to display your mission and receive donations for your future scholarships. Creating a fund is a great option if you don’t already have the money needed to fund your scholarship. You can customize your page to include a cover image, your story, and your goal so that friends, family, and other donors can contribute to your cause.

Whether you plan on immediately launching your scholarship or beginning with a fund, you can use your proposal to establish a title idea, selection criteria, your desired number of winners, the intended scholarship amount, deadlines, and a description. If your scholarship is in memory of a loved one, you can even name it after them and include details about their life in the description.

Once you've submitted your proposal, a member of our donor team will be assigned to your account and you’ll be able to schedule a call to go over your proposal and the rest of the steps in further detail.

Explore thousands of scholarship funds to gain a deeper understanding of how your own scholarship fund could be structured!

Step 3: Finalize the Details

During your call with our donor team, you can ask any questions you may still have about the process,’s mission, or the services available to you. Additionally, you can finalize all of the details of your scholarship to ensure that your vision is brought to life. You can also discuss exactly what you can do with your scholarship, such as restricting it to students in a certain field or located in a certain state.

The possibilities for your scholarship are endless! Whether you choose to keep your scholarship open to all students or to restrict it to students of certain backgrounds or demographics, the scholarship will be true to your mission and focused on the students you’d like to help. With millions of students using the platform, there’s no shortage of eligible applicants who will seek out your scholarship.

Step 4: Review the Scholarship Draft

After the call, our writing team will draft your scholarship and send it to you within 24-48 business hours so you can review the final product. If there are any changes you'd like to see or details you’d like to add, you can let the scholarship program team know.

Make sure to confirm that the end date and announcement date, the number of winners, and the total award amount are correct. Additionally, ensure that you’re happy with the scholarship description, the cover image, and the title of the scholarship, all of which can be modified before publishing the scholarship by reaching out to the donor team member assigned to your account.

Browse our scholarships for a preview of what your scholarship may look like!

Step 5: Fund the Scholarship

Once everything looks perfect, you can fund the scholarship! After providing the funds, the scholarship will go live on the site within one hour and will start accepting applications. All scholarships are funded upfront to ensure that the money will be awarded to the winners in a timely manner and in the amount promised.

Scholarships range in value, with many in the $1,000 to $10,000 range and some worth more than $30,000. However, as long as you have at least $500, you can fund a scholarship for one winner.

You can also choose to have multiple winners for your scholarship, and, while many donors choose to award all of their winners with an equal sum, you may also opt to offer different award amounts for your winners. You can split up the funds however you’d like as long as each winner receives at least $500. Later, when choosing your winners, make sure that you’ve ranked them accordingly so that the most outstanding applicant wins the grand prize.

Even if you start small with your scholarship, you can increase the total later in the process if you’d like to boost the award amount after the scholarship has gone live. Whether you simply increase the award amount for the initial number of winners or you add more funds in order to also add more winners, you’ll easily be able to expand your scholarship after publishing if you acquire more funds.

You may fund your scholarship through a credit card or ACH deposit and you can also donate to other scholarships or funds on the site. All award contributions are tax-deductible due to the Bold Foundation’s status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit and you’ll receive an email confirming your donation each time you contribute.

Step 6: Review Your Applications

You'll start seeing applications come in pretty quickly as students apply for your award. The number of applications you can expect varies based on how big or small your eligibility pool is as a result of the specific criteria of your scholarship.

You can generally expect around 50-200 applications for more restrictive scholarships and more for scholarships that are broader. Application amounts also vary based on the value of the scholarship and how time-consuming the application requirements are. No-essay scholarships and scholarships requiring video submissions or very short essays will receive more applications than scholarships with lengthier or more taxing requirements.

Based on the size, rigor, and restrictions of your scholarship, you can estimate the number of applications you’ll receive. Then, using the unique details of your scholarship and keeping in mind how long each submission will be, you can plan your review strategy accordingly so that you can set aside adequate time to review your applications.

You may review each application yourself, but our team will also go over the applications and will compile a list of the top applicants while also searching for plagiarism or cheating. You have the option of referring to the list of recommended applicants if you’re not able or willing to review every application, but you aren’t required to choose winners from this list and you will always have access to all of the applications you received.

Step 7: Choose Your Finalists and Winner(s)

As you're reviewing, you'll be able to rate applications and mark applicants as finalists. Additionally, you'll also be able to choose your prospective winner(s). Winners and finalists won’t be notified until the announcement date, so you can change your mind beforehand, just remember that you won’t be able to modify your decision once the announcement has gone live on the site. So, be sure to finish your review and winner selection before the announcement date!

As part of the review process, you’ll have access not only to the submitted materials but also to the applicants’ profiles. To sign up for, students create profiles that list their education experience, their hobbies, their educational and career goals, and any extracurricular involvement. In this way, donors are able to get a better understanding of who each applicant is. Students also have the option of including a profile picture and a bio, allowing them to share quick introductions, background information, or anything else they want donors to know about them.

Curious about student applications? Scroll to the end of this page to view two winning applicant essays to learn more.

Step 8: Awarding the Scholarship

Once you’ve selected your winners and finalists, we’ll handle the rest of the process! On the announcement date, the winners and finalists will be named under the scholarship description and the winning applications that were kept public will be shown.

Our team will reach out to the winners through text and email to confirm their information. Winners must provide proof of enrollment and may be asked for other documentation to prove their eligibility, such as a transcript if a scholarship requires the winner to have a certain GPA.

Once a winner has been verified, the scholarship funds are then sent by check to the financial aid office of the winner’s college or university, and the money is applied to direct educational costs, including tuition, course fees, and textbook costs. If a winner is still in high school or is taking a gap year, the funds will be held until they enroll in a higher education institution.

In rare but occasional cases, a winner may end up not being eligible to receive the funds. If the winner was dishonest about their qualifications, isn’t attending college and won’t in the future, or is studying at a school located outside of the United States, a new winner may have to be chosen. In these cases, our donor team will reach out and let you know that a new winner will need to be selected.

The donor team member can help you as much or as little as you’d like in the process of selecting a replacement winner. Once a suitable candidate has been selected, often from the preexisting list of finalists, our awards team will follow the process outlined above to contact the winner and disperse the funds.

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About Scholarship Funds

If you've ever thought about how to start a scholarship fund but were unsure, is a great option for you! Scholarships on are a form of gift aid that serves to help students pay their tuition and/or repay student loans. On, a nonprofit organization, you have the option of creating a traditional scholarship or a scholarship fund.

With a traditional scholarship, anyone can contribute to the total amount through the contribute button on the scholarship page. If you choose to set up a scholarship fund, the donations you receive won't directly increase the size of your scholarship but will instead be credited to your donor account. You can use these funds to increase your current scholarship(s) or to fund future scholarships.

How to start a scholarship fund

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Setting Up a Scholarship Fund

Why should I use to set up a scholarship fund?

For individuals thinking about how to start a scholarship fund, Bold is the clear answer. is the largest independent scholarship provider in the country and seeks to eliminate student debt by making it easy for anyone-families, individuals, foundations, companies, etc., to create scholarships.

A common misconception is that setting up a scholarship and going through the selection process has to be a hassle. With, you can create a scholarship proposal in minutes. Our scholarship management team will help you with every step of the process and can even help you review your applications!

The Bold Foundation is a nonprofit scholarship program with hundreds of open scholarships. Whether you're an individual looking to start a small scholarship or a company setting up a series of awards, your donation matters to future generations and is here to help you.

There are many different scholarship management services, but is a unique organization that is fee-free for both donors and applicants, helping anyone who has a vision start scholarship funds to help others.

What types of scholarships are there?

The scholarship you create is up to you, but there are several different routes you can take. Most scholarships are essay-based, requiring a short essay in response to one or more prompts. However, you can also choose to have applicants submit a link, video, art piece, or other materials in place of an essay or in addition to an essay.

You can also choose to create a no-essay scholarship if you'd like. No-essay scholarships are easy for applicants but can be difficult to review since it's difficult to determine who is the best candidate without any application materials.

You can also choose to create a recurring scholarship, such as a yearly award or a scholarship that is renewed every six months. You're also welcome to make your scholarship a one-time award and you can choose to reopen it later on.

Another option is to create a memorial scholarship. The process of creating a memorial scholarship fund is very similar to the process of creating any scholarship fund, but memorial scholarships often aim to honor the legacy of a particular individual who has passed away.

Many memorial scholarships use the image of the namesake and will describe their life and will be awarded to someone who honors the qualities and values of the individual or has similar passions and goals.

How many students can win a scholarship?

The number of winners you choose is up to you. Depending on the total amount of your scholarship, it's possible to award multiple winners. The only requirement is that each winner receives at least $500 in scholarship funds.

For example, if you create a $10,000 scholarship you could award $500 to 20 students, but you could also choose to give more money to fewer students by having only one or two winners instead.

As the scholarship amount increases, due to you or others making more contributions, you can increase the number of winners.

How to start a scholarship fund

How much money do you need to start a scholarship fund?

To take advantage of Bold's scholarship management service, you have to make an initial donation of at least $500. Again, Bold's scholarship program is fee-free for students and donors! You can increase your scholarship after it's been published and you can also raise funds by encouraging others to contribute to it directly on the scholarship page. There are many $500 scholarships on and some scholarships are even worth $75,000.

How do you start a high school scholarship fund?

Follow the steps listed above to create your donor account and scholarship proposal. Make sure you select high school as the correct education level and decide if you want the scholarship to be open to all high school students or only to a certain grade level, such as high school seniors.

How do you start a college scholarship fund?

The process for creating a college scholarship fund is very similar. You can choose which degree types are eligible, such as a two or four-year degree, and you can make the award open to undergraduate and/or graduate students.

Another useful feature you can utilize for college scholarships is opening the scholarship to students pursuing specific majors or fields of study.

How can I start a scholarship fund in my name?

When you create a scholarship proposal, you can choose your title. Many donors name their scholarship after themselves and most memorial scholarships are named after a friend, family member, or loved one of the donor. Once you raise funds, you can easily start a scholarship in your name or in the name of family members or anyone else you'd like to honor.

When creating a scholarship, what selection criteria can I require?

Choosing your eligibility requirements starts with finding your great idea for your scholarship. Once you figure out what community you want to help, we can facilitate your effort to start a scholarship fund that helps the community members.

You can choose to make your scholarship open to all students but you can also narrow down the applicant pool by adding selection criteria.

You can make your scholarship open to students pursuing a certain type of degree, you can limit applicants to BIPOC students, women, students with disabilities, or other underrepresented students, and you can even require students to be a certain age, from a certain state, in a particular field of study, and above a certain grade point average to be eligible.

When setting up a scholarship, how does the review process work after my scholarship has been funded?

In your donor portal, you'll be able to review all of the scholarship applications you received. The team will also review each application based on the criteria you provided and will recommend some top applicants for you as well. In your donor portal, you're able to choose finalists and your winner(s).

How to start a scholarship fund

Is a contribution to a scholarship fund tax-deductible?

Yes, every contribution made to a scholarship on is tax-deductible, meaning you receive tax benefits for creating a scholarship fund. Donations are made to the Bold Foundation which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

You can donate using a credit card or through ACH deposit and you'll then receive an email confirming your tax-deductible status. Credit card donations are processed immediately and ACH donations typically take 3-5 days to process.

How will scholarship funds be distributed?

Our scholarship program was created to best benefit donors and students alike. Once you choose your winners and the announcement date passes, the team will notify scholarship recipients and confirm all of the necessary information.

As a nonprofit organization, Bold is different from most scholarship management services. Scholarship winners who are in college will have the money sent directly to their school's financial aid office to go towards tuition and other course-related expenses. If a high school student wins, we'll hold the scholarship fund money in an account for them until they enroll in a college.

Scholarships can also be awarded to graduates who have student debt, in which case the money will be sent straight to them to use towards their loans. These recipients will sign a grant agreement and will then provide proof that they used the money for their student debt.

Have more questions? Check out the donor FAQ page here and reach out to for additional information.

Click here to create your free donor account today!