I need advice in establishing a "targeted" charity
May 1, 2012 10:41 AM   Subscribe

When I was getting my Master's degree, my mentors suggested I continue on to a Ph.D. The application fees alone were enough to make me laugh, but a kind person paid those fees for me and I eventually was accepted into a program. I've always wanted to pay this gift forward by helping to pay college-related fees for other aspiring students at my alma mater, and would like to do so in the name of the person who did this for me.

The recession hit me hard and I have a terribly low paying job right now. I am tired of waiting for that magic, well-paying position and want to start giving money now. I can only swing about $100 a month right now, which may not be much but, from experience, I know even that amount is a huge help to a struggling student.

My question is, what is the best way to start this? Should I simply find a student group and ask them to let me know when they become aware of a student who could use assistance? Do I create a special bank account and write a check from there? Do I need a fund or can I just write personal a check?

I'm not interested in tax deductions, but as I become more financially stable I'd like to establish this idea as an official entity through which I assist students from my alma mater in paying entrance, application and test fees, and I want to do so in the name of my mentor with the suggestion that each recipient "pay it forward" once he or she is able.

In this beginning stage I certainly don't need/want a staff of people or any real "overhead". I just want to ensure that the money goes to the intended person for the intended need and with my intended message. How might I begin?

I want to give money to students in need at my alma mater a particular purpose, in the name of my mentor. I'm starting very small and want to do it properly!
posted by Piscean to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'd contact the department at your school and speak to one of the folks there. There may already be a similar type of fund established, or they might be in a position to administer it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:45 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Contact the development department, specifically, or the alumni/ae office.

I love this idea and am going to look into doing it myself, actually. Thanks for helping me think of it.
posted by k8lin at 10:47 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Development department first. Any existing accounts would be run through them, so they're a good first reference.
posted by Miko at 11:15 AM on May 1, 2012

Yup, contact the Development/Alumni Relations Office before doing anything else.
posted by lotusmish at 11:22 AM on May 1, 2012

For the past 10 years I've funded a scholarship at my university in my uncle's name for exactly the same reason. Ditto everyone that says contact development/alumni affairs; that's largely what they're there for. You're exactly what they're looking for: an alumnus that wants to give money and is in a position to do so.
posted by flipper at 11:25 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I may know some gifted Kenyan math graduate students who could use some help in this regard, looking to start phd programs in the US or UK after finishing a masters in east Africa. It's an incredible pain getting application fees paid internationally, and they're all that much higher if the average income of the originating country is a fraction of the developed nation's. Drop me a line if you're interested in helping out, and I'll see what I can do to get you in touch with some good applicants who could use the help. Basically, it would be great if you could send off a check or two directly to the schools with a given student's name in the memo.

Another option along these lines would be to donate to AIMS, which is doing some great work improving graduate math education within Africa.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:29 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would contact your department, as well as the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers, which helps potential grad students with application fees and the application process. If you do it through IRT they'll be able to let you know what students of theirs are applying and give it directly to them.
posted by spunweb at 11:36 AM on May 1, 2012

Thank you, everyone!
posted by Piscean at 5:31 PM on May 1, 2012

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