At DonorsChoose.org full time public school teachers- yes, this includes teachers who are in charge of the library, aka librarians or media specialists– can sign up to seek funding for school projects and materials they need. Much like Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites, educators can tap into a network of individuals much larger than the school community and their own personal circle of friends and acquaintances. The fact is, people want to help. Particularly if they can see how the money was spent and are able to interact at some level with the recipients.
The great thing about this site is that it’s very simple and straightforward. Teachers sign up (for free), detail out the materials and/or activities they need, and the campaign starts. Costs are verified by a member of the DonorsChoose team who then makes the purchases and sends items directly to the school. Finally, teachers are asked to send thank you letters, photos and a report. Donors can search by location; teacher or school; grade level, type of project or resource; amount needed; or by a keyword of their own choosing. They can fund a small part of the project or all of it. Sometimes there’s even a flash funding event where an organization or famous person- such as Google or Bill Gates, steps in and funds the whole thing. But mostly, it’s just regular people who want to feel useful.
And it works. At DonorsChoose.org, 74% of the projects get fully funded. And on average, this happens within 27 days. Feel like cutting through the red tape, anyone? What I love is the range of projects that educators post. Here’s a few good examples:
- Sally Ride Science – Literacy and eBooks for STEM learning: A fantastic program that recognizes the role of literacy in STEM activities. This campaign is to fund a year’s worth of access to digital content and analytics.
- Teacher of Three Oaks Library: A simple request for more library books. The teacher has identified three of the most important genres lacking from the library and then listed each book desired in the three categories.
- A list of “Nearby Projects” yields 10 projects in my own school district! I like this one which is asking for bean bag chairs for the reading center.
Educators, if you haven’t already used DonorsChoose.org, please give it a whirl. And parents, please pass the word on to your children’s teachers.