Running a successful donors choose project can make a life changing difference in your classroom. Have any of you ever found yourself dipping into your pocketbook to fund a project? As educators, we all know how expensive our careers can be. If the school will not or cannot provide the funding for various classroom supplies or projects, it often falls on teachers to foot the bill. Because many educators know this, my hope is many educators also know about an amazing website: www.donorschoose.org.
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Donors Choose is a program that was started by a teacher who found himself making copies of a book (we’ve all been there!). As he was making copies of over 100 pages of text, he thought to himself how much money himself, as well as his colleagues, spent on books, art supplies and more. He also thought there were probably people out there who would help, and he was right! Along with his colleagues, he put up 11 projects to start. Guess what? They were funded by people out in the world! They allowed the program to grow from a simple website to a resource all teachers can use no matter where they teach!
Sounds amazing right? You may be wondering what kind of projects you can post or what you can do to help your project get funded. Keep reading for some answers and tips to make your Donors Choose project a complete success!
First things first, you can literally post any project that you want! If you want 30 iPads for your classroom, ask for it! If you need 200 pencils to make it through the school year, ask for it! So what can you ask for when it comes to Donors Choose project? Literally anything that you may want or need.
So, how do you get that project funded when there are hundreds of projects for donors to choose from? Well it does take a little bit of work but it is for sure doable! Follow these five tips below to help your next donors choose project be successful.
Tip#1: Read All About It
One way to make sure you’re getting your project noticed is to look at other projects like it on Donors Choose. Make sure that what you have to say isn’t the same as someone who has a similar project. Reading other projects can also give you some ideas to include in your description. Because your description is all donors have to go off of, it’s very important in making your project successful.
Tip #2: It’s Not What You Know
We all know the saying, “It’s not always what you know, it’s who you know.” While this can make many of us roll our eyes, it is true! One way to get your project noticed is to know who you some of the donors are. You can do this by advertising your project on your social media or the school’s website. You can talk to corporations associated with your school. One school’s insurance company donates to schools all the time; they actually budget for it! So, use your resources! There are people out there that want to help you help your students! By advertising and networking, you are setting your Donors Choose project up for success.
Tip #3: Don’t Always Go Big
If this is your first project, don’t go big right away. You have to dip your toe in the pool before you jump in. One of the best things you can do is start with a small project and work your way up to a big project. For example, you may start with asking for a donation for basic art supplies such as glue, markers, crayons, and scissors. Then, after you get a few projects under your belt, you can ask for bigger objects like iPads or cameras to help document your school year. Asking for something big isn’t bad but just like anything, Donors Choose takes practice and not getting a big project funded right away can be frustrating. A successful Donors Choose project right away will keep you motivated to use this great forum.
Tip #4: Needs vs. Wants
This is all about being practical and ties in with not always going big. I know it would be great for every student to have this or that in their hands but you have to ask yourself, do we really need to do this? Is there another way I can do this project so it doesn’t cost as much? When you put your project up on Donors Choose, you have to justify why you want to do this project. Essentially, you’re going to be selling your project to someone you may not know. If you’re project isn’t practical or it’s not easy for someone to see the benefit, it can be difficult for your project to get funded. Making sure your project is practical and useful is not only good classroom practice, it’s good for a successful Donors Choose project as well.
Tip #5 Teach from the Heart
When you write about your project, write from the heart. Don’t use a bunch of educator mumbo jumbo language. Tell the donors what you want to do, why you want to do it, and the impact it will have on your students’ lives. This is not really a business arrangement, it’s more of a charitable donation. We don’t go sit down with someone and discuss why we should donate to their cause whether that’s fighting breast cancer or funding your local fire department. We see there is a need and we just donate. Education is one of those things. People want our future generation to be ready to face whatever the world is going to look like. They realize teachers are on the front lines when it comes to preparing students for that task. People want to donate otherwise they wouldn’t log on to the website. The best thing you can do is speak from that great big heart of yours and tell them why your project should be funded.
There are so many cool things you can do through Donors Choose and it’s a completely free service. While it can be difficult to get funded right away, if you follow the tips above, it can be well worth your time. A successful Donors Choose project can do so much for you and your students! If you haven’t logged on to check out Donors Choose yet, get online and try it out today.
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Looking for more amazing tips for your classroom? Check out these previous posts:
Have your run a Donors Choose Project before? Share your experience below and help a fellow educator run their project successfully!
Until next time…Happy Teaching!