Are you thinking about or on the fence about creating a scholarship? Then this article is for you. Scholarships are the ultimate philanthropy activity a person, family, a group of friends, clubs, or a community can do together. Because when you create a scholarship you can mold it to your philosophy (I’ll explain this in a bit), you go “all in” on a specific person or group of people, and because you are able to have a front row seat to see their journey through trials and tribulations.

Expressing your philosophy – to boil down choosing your philanthropy thesis to two simple points there are two main ones that people generally choose from. One, helping people who are disadvantaged (financially, demographically, geographically, medically, etc.) or two, helping people who earned it (standing out from the crowd, leadership positions, showing grit, working hard, overcoming challenges, high grades, etc.) No matter what motivates your philanthropy you can mold your scholarship to express it. You can even do combinations of both so that your scholarship really reflects YOU! For example, you can make your scholarship qualifications to give preference to someone with the same ethnicity that you have, with a 3.0 GPA or higher from your High School. A scholarship will literally allow you to find the next “you” in the world.

Going “all in” – There is nothing like the feeling of going all in and then winning, whether it’s in poker or helping someone out. When you give out a scholarship, you are going all in with your funds on a single life. You are not donating to a general fund where your funds go to the general need for the organization. You know exactly who this is going to help and how they are going to spend the money. Now all you need is to see that student win.

Watch the journey – When you give a scholarship, the recipient generally has ways to go in college, during this time you can request reports or updates from the student. Hear about how they are doing, what their biggest challenge is, and maybe there are additional ways that you can help to mentor this student beyond the scholarship. Program scholarships are great at this, the recipients usually are moved into a cohort and get to know each other and their donor(s) well. A great example of a program scholarship is the Lunalilo Scholars Program at Kapiolani Community College. I was fortunate enough to be apart of one of their cohorts, and their program has proven to increase success rates.

The scholarship is a great vehicle to give back to your community because you can define it, go all in, and you get to help a person out through a journey. Scholarships help more people hit a well-known goal in today’s society (a College Degree), as more people hit this goal, that level of education will become more standard that will benefit all of us.


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