Establishing a memorial scholarship is a meaningful way to honor the memory of a loved one or an individual who has made a significant impact in your life. It serves as a lasting tribute that can provide educational opportunities to deserving students. This guide will walk you through the process of starting a memorial scholarship in someone's honor.


Understanding Memorial Scholarships

A memorial scholarship is a type of financial aid for students that is established in memory of an individual. It can be set up by anyone, including families, friends, or organizations, and can be tailored to reflect the values, interests, or accomplishments of the person being honored.

Memorial scholarships can be merit-based, need-based, or a combination of both. They can be directed towards students pursuing a specific field of study, attending a particular institution, or coming from a certain geographic area, among other criteria.


Benefits of Memorial Scholarships

Creating a memorial scholarship not only honors the memory of a loved one, but it also provides tangible benefits to students. It can help reduce the financial burden of education, allowing recipients to focus more on their studies.


Moreover, memorial scholarships can inspire students to strive for excellence, as they often come with certain academic or extracurricular requirements. They can also promote the values and causes that were important to the person being memorialized, encouraging students to carry on their legacy.

Steps to Start a Memorial Scholarship

Starting a memorial scholarship involves several steps, from initial planning to implementation. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process.

1. Define the Purpose and Criteria

First, you need to clearly define the purpose of the scholarship. What do you hope to achieve with it? Who do you want to benefit from it? This will guide you in setting the eligibility criteria for the scholarship.

Consider the interests and values of the person being honored. If they had a passion for a particular field of study or a commitment to a certain cause, you might want to target students who share these interests or values. You can also consider factors like academic achievement, financial need, community involvement, and personal qualities.

2. Determine the Funding Source

Next, you need to figure out how you will fund the scholarship. You can use personal funds, solicit donations, or organize fundraising events. You might also consider setting up an endowment, which is a fund that is invested to generate income for the scholarship on an ongoing basis.

Keep in mind that the amount of funding will determine the number and size of the scholarships you can award. Therefore, it's important to plan your funding strategy carefully to ensure the sustainability of the scholarship.

3. Establish the Scholarship

Once you have defined the purpose and secured the funding, you can proceed to establish the scholarship. This involves creating a formal document that outlines the purpose, criteria, selection process, and other details of the scholarship.

You will also need to decide who will administer the scholarship. You can do it yourself, or you can partner with a school or a scholarship administration organization. If you choose to partner with an organization, make sure to research their fees and services to ensure they align with your needs and budget.

Legal and Tax Considerations

Starting a memorial scholarship also involves some legal and tax considerations. Depending on how you set up the scholarship, it may qualify as a charitable contribution, which can provide tax benefits. However, there are specific rules and requirements that must be met.

Setting Up a Nonprofit Organization

If you plan to solicit donations or set up an endowment for the scholarship, you might consider establishing a nonprofit organization. This can provide tax benefits to you and your donors, but it also comes with certain responsibilities and regulations.

Setting up a nonprofit involves filing paperwork with the state and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), creating bylaws, and forming a board of directors. You will also need to maintain records and file annual reports to keep your nonprofit status.

Partnering with a Scholarship Administration Organization

Another option is to partner with a scholarship administration organization. These organizations can handle the administrative tasks of the scholarship, including legal and tax compliance. They can also provide guidance and support throughout the process.

However, keep in mind that these organizations charge fees for their services. Therefore, it's important to weigh the costs and benefits before deciding to partner with an organization.


Starting a memorial scholarship is a meaningful way to honor the memory of a loved one while providing educational opportunities to deserving students. It involves careful planning, funding, and administration, as well as legal and tax considerations. With the right approach and resources, you can establish a lasting tribute that reflects the values and legacy of the person being honored.