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We recently had a conversation with a new board member who wanted to know if he could donate a small amount of money for a scholarship. We had a long discussion about how we seek endowments on scholarships due to the amount of work involved….i.e. every scholarship has different criteria and is therefore a different process, etc. Plus, the amount he indicated was not enough to attract an applicant. We have several other endowed scholarship funds.
We would like explore developing a single, pooled fund for scholarships. At least 5-6 people in the past two years have wanted to give a flat amount for a scholarship – with no intention of endowing it (at least not immediately). We do not permit pass-through gifts as scholarships, but I believe we are missing out on opportunities.
For our foundation a scholarship fund to pool one-time gifts would be manageable if the award criteria was broadly defined – broad enough to attract a larger pool of applicants without the need for massive marketing and outreach, and then we can make multiple named awards from the fund annually. That is, one process, one set of criteria, and a multiple number of scholarships based on the number of gifts. We would keep track of the gifts and assign a name or two to each award (based on the gift size).
For us this would add only one more scholarship process each year, but could result in potentially 5-10 additional scholarships (with 5-10 one-time gifts).
This type of fund could attract more people into our family of donors (scholarships and hopefully others) and provide long-term value for student financial aid.
Are there any foundations who have a single, pooled fund for scholarships? If so, how do you operate it? What level of service fee do you charge? How is your application setup? How do you evaluate its impact and benefit to the organization?