I’ve been blessed with several funded DonorsChoose.org projects over the years. I’ve received a few different forms of technology for my classroom. I’ve expanded my classroom library with intentional choices on authors and character diversity. I’ve received supplies to help us with art projects and organization. Our classroom has a few new flexible seating options thanks to DonorsChoose projects too. I’ve also had the opportunity to be a DonorsChoose ambassador the last few years. I’ve been able to help people at my school get started with DonorsChoose, and I’d love to help others! These are my favorite ideas and tips for success on DonorsChoose. Sign up for an account using my referral link here.
In order to be eligible to post a project on DonorsChoose, you must be a full-time certified staff member at a public school in the US. You must also work with students 75% of the time. This means that while most guidance counselors are eligible to post projects, instructional coaches are not. This also means that administrators and outside clubs (PTA, for example) are not eligible to post projects.
6 Tips for Project Success on DonorsChoose
Tip #1: Start Small
Projects that are $600 or less have a better chance of funding than projects that are worth more. DonorsChoose also works on a point system. Each new member starts out with 3 points. The cost of your project deducts a specific amount of points (only one point for projects worth $600 or less). When you successfully fulfill your project requirements (project confirmation, pictures, thank yous, and mailed in thank yous) you earn points back. Smaller successful projects will help you earn the points to later post larger projects or special requests. Which brings me to tip #2.
Tip #2: Break it Up
Whether it’s your first project, or your 8th project, I always recommend bigger projects be broken into smaller ones for success on DonorsChoose. It takes a lot of time to fund an expensive project. You don’t receive items until your entire project gets funded. But, if you break that project up into smaller, quicker to fund projects, you increase your chances that your DonorsChoose project is successful, and receive your materials more quickly. For example, I posted a project for 3 Chromebooks knowing I wanted to have more than that. I posted another project for 3 Chromebooks immediately after the first one was funded. I could have had both up at the same time but I chose to wait since I was posting projects for other items.
When I’ve posted projects for books for my library I’ve grouped them by specific needs. One project I did was for specific authors’ collections so I could expand what was available for students from authors they already know and love. I did another request for graphic novels and highly illustrated chapter books that would help my more reluctant readers bridge the gap from picture books to chapter books.
Tip #3: Use Matches
I often pay attention the match offers that are available. I keep an eye on the match offers page and write my project when I see an eligible match. This means I often have project ideas in mind, and I sometimes even just store them as drafts until I’m ready to post them. Match offers are really easy to use as the match is automatically applied without any work on the donors’ part. And don’t forget to select your state on the top- there may be a match offer just for your local area!
Tip #4: Share
Share your project on your social media accounts and ask others to share for you. I have gotten so many donations from friends from sharing. You have many friends who would love to support you as a teacher and DonorsChoose makes it simple for them to pick and choose what they want to support. I have some friends that have donated to every one of my book projects. I also have received some large donations from anonymous donors that I swear came from my social media posts. And, your friends don’t even have to make the donations themselves. Just a share on your post helps it get seen by others. Don’t forget to share with your parents and school too! I’ve had donations from a few grandparents and my school always shares our projects on their Facebook page- helping us reach more families.
Tip #5: Stay Student Focused
The most compelling projects are those that directly benefit students the most. While it would be nice to have all of the organization we dream of, and have the great new Silhouette machine to create beautiful vinyl accents for our classroom, these aren’t the projects that excite donors the same way as books and winter clothing. If you are trying to get started on DonorsChoose, keep your projects and write your essay compelling potential donors to fund the items your students need most.
Tip #6: Utilize DonorsChoose Programs
One of my favorite things about DonorsChoose is that they frequently give you short advance notice about programs they’re running. First time projects area also eligible for the match code LIFTOFF matching all other donations for a short time. These two programs really help get first projects funded quickly. They also have other programs throughout the year in addition to their matches. Follow DonorsChoose.org on Twitter and Facebook and stay up-to-date on upcoming programs that will help your projects be successful. Sign up for a new account here.
Need additional help?
Are you looking for how to best write your project essay to attract donations? Want to have suggestions on which sites to use to purchase your items? I’m happy to help! Send me an email at tessa @ talesfromoutsidetheclassroom.com or use the contact form here and I’ll help your brainstorm, and offer specific advice on your project idea. I also might even be able to help you off with a kickstart donation if I’ve helped you with your project. I make no guarantees on your project’s chance of funding as I have no direct relationship with DonorsChoose. I’ll be offering my suggestions based on my past projects’ success on DonorsChoose.
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