As part of our series of 25 fundraising ideas for churches, we’re exploring ways you can build generosity and philanthropy in your congregation. Today’s idea is focused on scholarships for students in your church.
Now, if you’re thinking, “Hey, a scholarship fund doesn’t help us pay the utility bills!” stay tuned. Yes, this is an idea for a designated fund, but we’ll outline the importance and strategy this can provide in growing your donor base in both the short and long term.
Many denominations have established scholarship funds and endowments. This idea doesn’t conflict with those but provides a layer of local support to students from your congregation. The benefit of offering a scholarship from your local church goes far beyond the obvious support for a student beginning a college journey. Students in your middle and high school youth group, your mission groups, confirmation classes, and parents will learn of this opportunity. It will be one more reason to stay engaged and involved with your church. Students who receive the scholarship will stay more deeply connected to your congregation, and if you feature them regularly as your current recipient(s), it will help encourage additional donations to the fund.
If this is new for you, start small. Consider asking your members to fund a $250 or $500 book scholarship for a student next academic year. You’ll need a basic application and a small committee to develop the criteria and later make the selection decision. This is a great way to involve donors with giving capacity and a passion for education.
Many local communities provide college scholarships to their area’s high school students – your church becoming part of that group of organizations and businesses can interest prospective members as well. In some communities, the local ministerial alliance or several churches band together to fund an annual scholarship for 3 or 4 students. Again, this is an important outreach to help grow your congregation in the long term.
At some point, you may be blessed by a member who thoughtfully endows a scholarship for your church’s college-bound students through a major gift or via an estate bequest. Until that time, build the case for this kind of philanthropy by taking small steps. While the funding that members contribute to this effort will be restricted to the scholarship, those donations are VERY likely to be over and above their gifts to your operating/annual fund. Helping grow the church scholarship fund will deepen your members’ commitment and excitement about what your church is doing in the community.
About Tim Smith
Tim has over 30 years of experience in Church, Non-Profit Administration, Management, and Fund Development. Serving as an Executive Pastor and Chief Development Officer in growing Churches and Non-Profit Organizations. He has provided a wide range of expertise and resources. Tim serves as the Founder and CEO of Non-Profit DNA. A boutique firm committed to helping nonprofits and churches. By building their capacity through fundraising, leadership, team building, staff recruiting, and coaching.