If your school’s like mine, the amount of money you’re receiving from your district to buy materials for your students keeps getting smaller and smaller (if you get any at all!) And unfortunately, it’s not looking like that’s going to change in the next several years. Luckily, DonorsChoose makes it easy for teachers to request the materials they need for their students! All it takes is a bit of time and creativity and you can get funding for anything from materials to technology, guest speakers, and field trips! If you like to donate to other DonorsChoose projects too, here are various free tax calculators online so you can see if you can find a way to save money that way too. Through getting several projects funded and donating monthly to other projects as well, I’ve learned several things I wish something would have told me in the beginning!
Look For Matching Offers Before Posting
This one tends to be a bit frustrating for me. If you scroll to the bottom of DonorsChoose.org and click on “Partner Funding Opportunities,” you can see which companies are willing to help fund projects that meet certain criteria. Unfortunately, it isn’t often for me that companies are looking to fund what I need, but maybe you’ll have some good luck! In addition, it might be a good idea to “prewrite” several project ideas so if you see a match opportunity, you can post the project right away. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a few days to write and list my project and by the time it gets posted, the match opportunity isn’t valid anymore. SO sad!!
Keep it Under $200
This is huge! Obviously, it’s a lot easier to get a project funded when you only need $175 rather than $800. Also, as a donor, I can say that it’s more fun for me to see the money I give make a big impact. I usually don’t feel super motivated to give $25 if the teacher still has $700+ to go!
As any successful business knows, image is everything. Choose a picture for your profile that is engaging and personal. While clip art of an apple may be cute, it doesn’t tell me anything about your classroom! Pick one that conveys the smiles, excitement, and energy found in your room. I want to see the kids I will be helping! Then, clearly describe the items you are requesting and how your students will use them. Explain any challenges faced by your students, but don’t bog prospective donors down with sob stories. Keep it positive! Lastly, make sure your project is free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical mistakes. Nothing turns me off more than the prospect of donating money to an English teacher who doesn’t proofread their own work!
Link DonorsChoose to your Facebook
I love that DonorsChoose allows you to connect your teacher page to Facebook. While you may feel strange asking for money from family and friends, often it opens up a really good discussion about what DonorsChoose is and shows how dedicated you are in getting what your students need. It’ll also get you brownie points with any administrators who happen to come across your Facebook, which can be a nice added bonus 🙂
Get your Project Started
At first, I used to think it was frowned upon to donate to your own project. However, I quickly realized that not only is it allowed, but many people do it! By donating to your own project, other people can see your dedication when you’re willing to personally financially contribute (even though you probably already do privately)! It also looks nicer on DonorsChoose’s main page to see that a project is already partially funded. Donors often like to fund projects that are already on their way. When I donate to my own projects, I often just write something like, “I donated to this project because my students deserve the best I can possibly give them,” or something like that. Also, don’t be afraid to use a matching code if there’s one available (a quick Google search can often give you some ideas!) Then all of a sudden, $10 becomes $20 or whatever!
Share the Love
Along with giving to your own project, I highly recommend becoming a monthly giver. No, I’m not being paid by DonorsChoose or anything to say that. The reason is, that in addition to giving you good DonorsChoose karma, you earn badges on the site for being a monthly giver or supporting other projects. As a donor, I personally look to fund teachers who make the sacrifice of supporting other DC projects as well. I just kinda feel like what goes around should come around. Plus, it makes you feel good knowing that you’re helping hundreds of kids besides your own. What could be better than that!?
Good luck with your projects and have fun!