Are you a DonorsChoose junkie like me? Or maybe you hear all about it but just not sure where to start and how to fund? Well, one of my favorite tips to share with teachers is about DonorsChoose. I started the journey a year before I ever posted a project. Yes, a year before I ever posted!! I started an account and just watched from afar. I was in my first year of teaching and I just wasn't convinced I had time to devote to a project and to my classroom. Boy, how I wish I could go back and post a project as soon as I joined!
I have been fortunate to have had 6 projects fund in less than a year! (I finally posted my first project in August after a staff meeting!) This is a very small number compared to many others who have had hundreds fund! I am awe of those teachers!! So are you looking to start or maybe need some new ideas on funding? Then I have some tips for you!
Planning your Project
- When you first join and start your account you will want to upload a photo as soon as possible. Use an eye catching photo! Use a photo that is relevant to your classroom. Make your donors identify with your classroom through your picture. Your picture just like your title is one of the first things a donor notices. Once you have gained lots of supporters they will recognize you by your picture. Make it good and eye catching!
- First think about your students and your classroom needs. Start small, try not to think of everything you need but something specific. This will make it easier to write your project.
- Search DonorsChoose for projects that are wanting the same materials as you. This will help you find the stores that carries the materials you need. It will also give you an idea of how others wrote a project with a similar concept in mind.
- On the DonorsChoose website visit Partner Funding Opportunities On this page click on your state that you teach in. There are often many opportunities listed that companies will match up to 50% of your project cost! This drastically reduced the amount that you have to raise. Often you just need to tweak your project a bit or be sure to add certain words or phrases for your project to qualify.
Writing your Project
- Write a catchy title. Use play on words from children's book, songs, rhymes etc. Your title will be one of the first things a potential donor will notice. Make it catchy so they want to click and read more!
- After you have created your title it will be time to shop! Take your time when shopping. Visit several different stores and price match. Your goal is to create a project with a reasonable cost. You want your donors spending the least possible for each item. (Just like when we are BTS shopping and we look for the best deal!) Project that cost <$400 have the best chance of funding and those that cost <$200 have an even greater chance. Once your project hits $99 you have an excellent chance for funding!
- Now you are ready to summarize your cart. This step is important because this is a line that your donors will see when searching for projects. (They have to click to read more about your project. Search projects on DonorsChoose and you will see what I mean.) Be specific with the items you need and why you need it.
- Now it is time to tell your story! There are 4 parts to this process.
- Write your challenge: Again this will be one of the first statements that potential donors will see. You want to keep it less than 80 characters and draw your donors into wanting to click to find out more!
- Write about your students: Describe your students. Is this a literacy project? Write about how they are as readers; their strengths and challenges. Is it for basic supplies? Write about the challenges facing your students on why they cannot provide these supplies. Make it connect with your project!
- Overview of resources: Explain in detail how these resources will help your students. What will they be able to accomplish. What can they do now or can't do because of the lack of the materials. Make your potential donors envision or goal. Help them become passionate about your students and your classroom.
- Closing: In just a few short sentences reiterate the need and how their donation will help. How will it make a difference? Thank them for taking the time to read about your project.
- One of the last things you will do is select an expiration date. You want to give your project that longest time possible to fund. This gives you the best chance to receive a "Congratulations" email!!
- Last, PROOFREAD!!!! Have a friend triple dog check your spelling for you, The last thing you want is to have an awesome project with an error and a donor decides not to donate.
Get this baby funded! PROMOTE!
- Congratulations you submitted a project and received an email that it is live, now what?!? It is time to promote, promote promote! Right now, DonorsChoose is offering an opportunity for all projects in the first 7 days of going live to have donations matched. You will give your donors the match code "inspire" and ask them to use when donating. You really want to promote during this time. Wouldn;t you rather spend $100 for a $200 project? So will your donors!
- A great way to get your project started it to be the first donor. Even if you just donate $1! With the match code that is $2 started on your project. It shows donors at first glance that 2 donors believe in this project (Some donors do not like to donate to a project that has 0 donors), and that the teacher who wrote the project believes in it enough to support it! We all buy so many items for our classroom each year that I am very willing to start off my DonorsChoose project with a donation.
- Create an email and send it to friends and families. I also send how a letter home with my parents. I do not expect my parents to donate but I ask them to help spread the word to help their children gain necessary materials. They help me by sharing with their friends and families and sometimes businesses! The more eyes on your project the better chance for funding!
- Share your project on facebook, pinterest, twitter etc! Gauge how often you want to share your project. I share sparingly on facebook because I do not want to clog up my friends newsfeed with requests. Instead I share when a project has posted, when match codes are available and when we are close to our goal. I tweet the project more often because I just don't feel overbearing there. But still usually once or twice a day. You decide how often you want to do this. Just reminder more eyes, more donors!
- Check out the DonorsChoose forum! You can find this on the left hand side when your are on your account page. Write a quick blurb about your project, connect with donors and other teachers!
- Connect with Giving Pages. Giving pages are a great community to connect with other teachers and donors. We work together to promote projects and donate to each others ($1) to help them out. Often Giving Pages offer contests to win cash for your project by just donating $1 to a project on their page. You want to try to get your project on 4-5 Giving Pages...more eyes, more donors! Check out the section below to find several Giving Pages on Facebook!
- There are over 20,000 projects posted at any given time. Be the advocate for your students and help your project get noticed amongst all of the others!
Giving PagesRegional Pages (Host projects from their region...but you can always be a member and support other regions!)
Southern Hospitality : Page that hosts projects from the South!
Best in the Midwest : Midwest projects
Northern Lights :Projects from the North
Western Roundup :Projects from the West
Mid-Atlantic Projects for DonorsChoose : Projects from the Mid-Atlantic States
Carolina Girls On DonorsChoose : Projects for guys and gals from North and South Carolina
Some other great pages to check out:
Kindergarten Rocks!: This is awesome page that loves kindergarten but also focuses on other grade levels
Mrs. Kinder Owl :Another awesome page
Couponing For The Classroom :This page also give some great money saving tips!
Hand in Hand Giving Page : Helping projects in need
Memories and Milestones :Helping projects
Reading is FUNdamental :Helps projects with a focus on literacy
Music Makes Our Students Smarter :Helps projects that LOVE music!
Costume Box : A giving page that is part of Adam Lambert's Glam A Classroom campaign
FaerieFive :Follow them meadow to meadow to help fund projects!
So whose ready to post a project? Or what tips do you have for teachers? Leave a comment with your project. We would love to see what other teachers are requesting!