8 Tips to Building Your Own Scholarship

Choose the right site, use spellcheck, and network to recruit donors.

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 Thousands of students desperate to raise money for college are starting to use the Web to recruit donors. While most are getting little or no money, those who have succeeded say eight techniques can improve your chances of getting donations to your personal scholarship fund.

 1. Choose the right Web site. You can build your own site, use standard social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace, or try a new scholarship-building site, such as Greennote.com, Scholarmatch.com, or Sponsormydegree.com.

 [Read New Web Sites Empower Students to Build Their Own Scholarships.]

2. Include photos. Students who post pictures are more likely to get donations than those who don't, says Henner Mohr, founder of Sponsormydegree.com.

 3. Give lots of details and write clearly. "Kids who write vividly stick in your mind," notes Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and What is the What, and one of the founders of Scholarmatch.org.

 4. Spelland grammarcheck. Donors aren't likely to fund requests for college tuition from someone who can't spell.

 5. Think like a donor. Be honest and personal, but keep in mind: if your hobby is getting high or collecting expensive handbags, why would anyone want to give you money?

 6. Spread the word. Friends, family, former teachers, churchmembers, co-workers and strangers can all help, says Andrew Snow, a student at the College of the Sequoias who raised money using Sponsormydegree.com. Some of his friends posted his appeal for aid on their Facebook pages and on Twitter. Eventually, word got to a newspaper reporter for the nearby Fresno Bee, who wrote about him. A reader of that article donated enough to fund an entire semester at school.

 7. Keep your donors and your plea updated. You'll need funding for at least four years, not just one. If you can show donors that you are working hard and succeeding, they might be willing to help next year as well.

 8. Show your gratitude and give back. Snow believes his plea received funding at least in part because  he wants to be a teacher and promises to repay his sponsors by giving similar donations to other students as soon as he starts earning.

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