Web hosting provider Go Daddy announced this week that it is seeking applicants for its Go Daddy .ME Scholarship program, which will provide a $10,000 scholarship to each of ten successful applicants, in partnership with the .ME domain registry.
The scholarship program is part charitable venture, part community development and a bit of marketing for the hosting provider, which says it launched the program in 2010 as a way of supporting future entrepreneurs. The offer is in line with Go Daddy’s position as a provider of services to small businesses.
The academic focus is a bit of a shift thematically from Go Daddy’s more mainstream marketing efforts, which tend to be silly, and tend to go the sex-sells route. Last week, Go Daddy announced that its advertisement in this year’s Super Bowl (an annual event at the company) would feature supermodel Bar Refaeli. Along with the scholarship, and the advertising, Go Daddy does direct a lot of money toward charitable causes. In mid 2011, Go Daddy revealed that it had already donated $4.2 million to charity that year (including a significant contribution to earthquake relief in Haiti).
This will be the third year for Go Daddy’s .ME scholarship program. The web hosting company and domain name partnered to launch the program in 2010, and Go Daddy says it has given out $200,000 in scholarships so far. Go Daddy announced the winners of last year’s .ME Scholarship Program in may of 2012, saying it had reviewed thousands of applications before choosing the 10 winners.
“Ten thousand dollars can have a significant impact on a student’s future, especially with rising tuition costs,” said Go Daddy chief human resources officer Lane Jarvis. “Investing in these students is not only good for them, it’s great for Go Daddy because we are advancing future technologists for our tech-driven workforce.”
While it isn’t likely to have as much immediate impact from a customer standpoint – that is, it is not creating customers directly – the program isn’t entirely dissimilar from the recent trend among hosting providers with less of a mass-market focus than Go Daddy sponsoring or building programs designed to support or incubate software startups. It is also kind of similar to the efforts of some hosting providers to build up their business around a certain community or tool (WordPress, or Drupal, for example). Generally, there seems to be a growing trend toward outreach efforts that are not exactly marketing efforts, among hosting providers.
The Go Daddy Scholarship, which provides $10,000 to be spent on tuition and books, is available to students pursuing an undergraduate degree in the fall of 2013. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 and have scored higher than 1,000 on the SAT or more than 21 on the ACT.
Applicants are asked to submit a 500-word essay “describing how the Internet or Internet technology (e.g. websites, blogs, forums, social media, etc.) has helped you during the course of your studies and how you envision benefiting from it through college and beyond,” and winners are selected based on the essays.
More information on the scholarship program is available at the .ME branded Go Daddy Scholarship website.
Talk back: Do you or have you run any outreach programs in conjunction with, or instead of, more traditional marketing efforts? Do you think the Go Daddy scholarship reflects positively on the company? Do you think the results are more like advertising, or does the program have the potential to create a new community of users? Let us know in the comments.