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Classroom Funding Spotlight: Donors Choose

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According to the NEA, teachers annually spend almost $2,000 out of pocket for their classrooms. And most of that money goes for supplies. However, when teachers need to fund a larger project—for anything from a school fieldtrip to technology updates—they generally need outside help. And that help may seem hard to come by, especially in disadvantaged areas. Fortunately, today’s educators can turn to online crowdfunding as a strategy. And Donors Choose is one of the best crowdfunding organizations out there for teachers. Background Info Donors Choose began when a Bronx, NY high school history teacher launched a philanthropic website dedicated to teachers’ project requests. Once celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Colbert got on board, the site really went into overdrive. The Gates Foundation also offered support. To date, Donors Choose has helped teachers fund well over half a million projects in all fifty states.

According to the NEA, teachers annually spend almost $2,000 out of pocket for their classrooms. And most of that money goes for supplies.

However, when teachers need to fund a larger project—for anything from a school fieldtrip to technology updates—they generally need outside help. And that help may seem hard to come by, especially in disadvantaged areas.

Fortunately, today’s educators can turn to online crowdfunding as a strategy. And Donors Choose is one of the best crowdfunding organizations out there for teachers.

Donors Choose logo

Background Info

Donors Choose began when a Bronx, NY high school history teacher launched a philanthropic website dedicated to teachers’ project requests.

Once celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Colbert got on board, the site really went into overdrive. The Gates Foundation also offered support.

To date, Donors Choose has helped teachers fund well over half a million projects in all fifty states.

The Process

Teacher and kids use iPadsA kindergarten teacher may need a few iPad minis for his or her literacy stations.

Or, a classroom of ADHD kids might need some wobble chairs to redirect restless movements without disturbing fellow classmates.

Regardless of the need, teachers can start a project this way:

  1. Go to Donors Choose’s teacher page. Visit http://www.donorschoose.org/teachers and click the green “get started” button.
  2. Set up an account. Read a user agreement, answer several questions, and complete a short tutorial. Just click the blue button to begin.
  3. Create your project. Next, explain your project in more detail. Donors Choose staff will review your project and get back to you within a few days.
  4. Promote yourself! Send home flyers, send e-mails to generous friends and family members, post on social media, and spread the word verbally. Read more about these strategies in our next blog post.
As you will see, Donors Choose offers a straightforward application process; however, you can still improve your chances for funding by writing a listing that captures attention.

How to Write a Good Listing

If you’ve ever written a grant before, you’ll be happy to know that Donors Choose has created a simpler (shorter) process. Essentially, your final listing will include four or five paragraphs within two basic headings: “My Students,” and “My Project.”

These headings suggest a personal, relatable approach. As you write about your project, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Be clear. Understand your needs exactly, and be prepared to say exactly what your project entails.
  • Be engaging. Help readers relate both to your kids and to your project. Inspire enthusiasm from your intended donor.
  • Be specific. List how much your project will cost, how long it will take, and the intended result.
  • Be correct. Follow the same format shown by others teachers on the website. Pay attention to guidelines on the website and comply with each one exactly. Proofread and edit carefully!
Once you finish your listing, ask one or two colleagues to read it through and comment. Then, when you’re ready, submit your listing and move on to the promotion stage of your project.

 

Learn the best ways to promote your classroom fundraiser by reading our next post, “Classroom Funding Follow-Up: Promoting Your Project.

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