Donors Choose has been a godsend for my classroom. I have had so many generous people donate their own hard earned money to my classroom and have wonderful materials to show for it. As of today, I have had 21 projects funded. TWENTY-ONE!! I can hardly believe it myself.
Some of the things I have written proposals for are:
* Apple iMac computer
* School supplies such as folders, notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, glue, etc...
* Art materials (paintbrushes, collage supplies, etc..)
* An ELMO document camera
* An Easel
* Recorders for my students
* Test prep materials
* Social Studies and Science supplemental materials and books
* Binders for our Heritage Albums
* A rug
* A vacuum (for the rug)
* Wireless speakers for the computer
And many more useful items that I would have spent my own money on. My classroom is a place full of tools for my students because of anonymous donors, as well as my family and friends.
Because I have had so many projects funded, many of my colleagues often ask what my secret is. Well, there really isn't a secret. However there are things that I do to try and help my projects get funded. Here are a few of my tips:
1. The Project Title -- it may seem silly, but the #1 thing that helps me get funded (by strangers) is a catchy, telling title. If someone is scrolling through a dozen different projects, I want to be the one he stops on. My title is what he sees, and I need to let him know what I am asking for in those few short words.
2. My picture -- I ALWAYS choose a picture that has my students in it. I want the donor to see those cute smiling faces. I want the donor to see exactly who will benefit from the projects. I want the donor to be enticed to open my project because my kids are looking right at him.
3. Pricing -- I really try hard to keep my projects under $400 (including all of the fees and taxes) Closer to $300 is best. These projects tend to get funded for me, while the more expensive ones sit. Less donors need to be involved, so it just makes it easier.
4. Facebook -- there is an option to link up your project to Facebook, so whenever you have any activity on your account, it automatically feeds into our newsfeed. This is a great way to generate buzz for your classroom. Just letting your friends know that it is there is great because they then go repost to their wall, and those people repost to their wall, etc...The more people who see your posts, the more likely you are to get someone to donate to it.
5. Company Campaigns -- The "Waiting for Superman" movie producers were really backing Donors Choose, giving out codes to use on projects. I got all of my friends to get the codes, sign up for DC, and sponsor my projects. Yahoo! also had a promotion running where your friends could vote for your project. Sonic does the same each summer. These deals they run are a wonderful way to get your projects funded. People (re: your friends) just have to vote for you. Luckily, I have a great set of people around me who are willing to do this. You may too, you just have to ask :) Starbucks will be running a campaign in January, the Wasserman Foundation is currently supporting my district, and I am sure more companies will join in on the Donors Choose bandwagon.
6. Giving Pages -- getting yourself onto various giving pages is also a great way to get funding. Sometimes, you have to live in a certain area to get on the page, or be asking for certain classroom materials. Other times, it is just a matter of writing to the person who owns the giving page and asking to be included.
7. Knowing What Is Coming Up -- Donors Choose has a newsletter and Facebook fan page that have really helped to keep me on top of the match opportunities and special funding. It was through them that I learned of an amazing Groupon that had come out (spend $10 and get $50 towards a project...fantastic!!) Having this on your wall and in your email is just a great way to keep on top of things.
Now, with all of that said, nothing is a guarantee. I have had 3 projects go unfunded...and let me tell you, it is a very sad day when that happens. But when ones do become complete, I feel so rewarded. I now that my class will benefit immensely because of the kindness of strangers.
If you haven't created a project on Donors Choose, click here to get started. Don't wait a single minute longer.