Donors Choose

If you have been teaching in a public school, hopefully you are aware of the website donorschoose.org.

I’ll admit it…I think my colleagues think of me as some kind of Donors Choose hoarder.  During the beginning of the past two school years, it seems like I have a stream of packages coming in to our main office with my name on it.  Someone always has some sort of comment, whether it’s signifying they’re impressed or weirded out.  Maybe they suspect I have some sort of school supplies sugar daddy or something?  Sometimes I feel sort of weird, but then I think, why should I?  Our kids has very specific and unique needs, which are challenging to meet the limited amount of supplies we are allocated in our school.  Why would I let my kids go without when there are people who are very willing to help?
With 22 completed projects under my belt, I would love to share some of the little gems I have learned along the way:
Think big or basic
What could make your teaching better?  You could really think either way.  I have found some people really love projects that are not the typical when it comes to classroom materials (for example, I had a project for cooking supplies funded in less than a month).  Try to think outside of the box of what people think when they think of proper classroom supplies.  On the other hand, you might find there’s a need for really basic materials (binders, Velcro, etc).  If you need basics, ask for the basics (for once, its okay to be basic).
Pack some punch
To me, nothing is worse than a teacher that writes a boring project description (I'm scared to imagine what your okcupid profile looks like).  How the heck are you going to get people excited to drop money when you barely sound excited about the project?  Put that high school creative writing class to work and make your description sound somewhat interesting. Make a couple of lame jokes, and don’t be afraid to use some exclamation point (when appropriate). Also, make sure you keep in mind your target  audience is (usually it’s not others in the education field).  Don’t forget to think up a snazzy title.
Thank your donors
Take a moment to say thank you whenever someone donates.  People love donating to classroom projects but they love it even more when they are personally thanked.  Include their name (if they are not anonymous), and make sure you use some variety so that your project page is not just a wall of “Thanks!”
Get low
I know it’s really tempting to add a bunch of stuff to your Amazon shopping cart and call it a day, but please, try to keep your cart price on the low side.  A goal of $500 is way easier to meet than a goal of $2000, and people get dissuaded when they see a project still needs $1500 to meet the goal.  If necessary, you can always divide your one big project in to two small projects.  Even if only one gets funded, it’s better to have some of the stuff you requested than nothing at all.
Have you ever used Donors Choose?  What have you received?  What tips do you have for new users?

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