I have a popular “Best” list titled The Best Places To Learn About Education Grants, but I thought it would be useful to create a new one sharing – and soliciting – advice specifically about using Donors Choose.
I’ve never used it, but am considering trying it out, so I’m hoping this list can help both readers and me.
I’ll start it off with some resources, but I’m hoping readers can share their own experiences in the comments section of this post….
Strapped schools turn to online fundraising sites for support is from The Hechinger Report.
8 Tips for Getting a Donors Choose Project Funded is from The Open Door Classroom.
Fundraising Site For Teachers Illuminates Classroom Disparities is from NPR.
My First Project Didn’t Get Funded (Thank Goodness) is by Dave Stuart Jr. and provides great advice for Donors Choose funding.
Donors Choose Helps Teachers Deliver Food, Clothing to Students in Need is from Ed Week.
Teachers Crowdfund Millions for Classroom Supplies is from U.S. News.
How Do Teachers Fund Their Classrooms? 6 Takeaways is from Ed Week.
DonorsChoose: It’s Not Just For Teachers Anymore is from Ed Week.
Donations help teachers’ dreams come true in Oakland, across the country is from Ed Source.
Larry, I’ll respond from 2 perspectives – as the “participant” and the “sponsor”. I am the IT Director in a small district in SE Wisconsin. For the past 5 years, we have had 8-12 teachers (or teams of teachers) submit DC grants to support a myriad of learning opportunities for students. Some grant requests have been around technology, but all requests have been around supporting learning (tablets, web cams, books, manipulatives, furniture, etc.) About 90% of the grants have been sponsored in full. We encourage our teachers to write the grants (if it includes technology, it needs my approval to make sure we can provide adequate support).
My husband and I are fans of DC. We sponsor classroom grants about 6 times each year. Some grants are from local WI schools, but most are from the school district in Virginia that we both attended (and graduated from). It is a way for us to contribute and give back to the district that shaped us as learners.
I’ve had a number of Donors Choose grants funded, mostly books but also a couple of tech ones. For your first, start small because it’s easier to get small things funded. I always check the Partner Funding Opportunities because those can get you halfway there right away, so as long as you don’t need one exact thing or experience, it can be really great.
I’ve often sent links to my projects out to friends and family or posted then on Facebook and it does help but I don’t do it too often. I’ll also watch for social media campaigns and try to get my projects to be part of them.
Colleagues of mine gave the same idea to start small, with Allison, and I agree.
I had 7 iPads and needed to project images, so using their vendors, I got that. Know that a $300 object may end up costing $450.
Also pick a date for your “Thank You Package much later than you originally plan. Other mandates get in the way, and you’ll appreciate the extra time.
Don’t take the project down because people haven’t contibuted. DC allows donors to search by terms. When a matching offer or a project about to expire, donors who graduated from your school district and others who connect to something in your project will come through.
Lastly, check your email frequently so you thank the donor quickly. That matters. My projects might sit 2 months and be funded within a week of the first thank you.