10 DonorsChoose.org Funding Tips for Teachers From a Teacher
by Amanda Poplawski | 02.16.16
Amanda Poplawski is a fourth-grade teacher in Plains, PA. She has had 10 DonorsChoose.org projects funded for a total of more than $5,500 from 86 supporters.
DonorsChoose.org is a free website that helps teachers connect to a community of donors eager to fund classroom projects. The site’s mission is to make it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need, moving us closer to a nation where students in every community have the tools and experiences they need for a great education.
On October 26, 2015 I submitted my first project to DonorsChoose.org. I wanted to be able to show the work of students and allow students to easily see experiments being done in class. To achieve these, I knew I needed to have a document camera, so I got to work and submitted my first project. Now, about 3 months later, I have had 10 projects funded and currently have 5 projects live.
DonorsChoose.org has transformed my classroom in ways I never knew possible: It has allowed me to fulfill my dreams for the classroom and lets my students help me design our class.
Amanda’s 10 tips for teachers to get DonorsChoose.org projects funded:
- Let your students have a say in the projects you are posting. When they are excited to receive the materials, they are your best advertisements. Your students will tell everyone they know what they want and they will ask them to donate, including the cashier at the grocery store register. (Yes, mine actually did this!) Social media also is a powerful tool that you have at your fingertips, so make sure to use it! Tell everyone you know and have your students share projects on it.
- Always donate to yourself first and include a reason why this project is so important to you. Your donors can and will read these notes.
- Join giving pages. These are online communities of teachers that help each other get funding. There are tons out there! My favorite are Caring Classrooms, Kindergarten Rocks and Yorkies to the Rescue.
- Always have a project posted. Once one of your projects has received around $100, start writing your next project. Keep a classroom wish list and choose your projects from this list.
- Writing a proposal is not as hard as you may think. Really, don’t be scared! Be honest, but make sure you are not being overly negative. Which sounds better? “My school does not provide computers for my students so I need to get funding myself” OR “I’m very fortunate my school has provided us with a computer for the students to use, but I would love to have more for the students to use daily.”
- Don’t overuse teacher lingo. Most people who will be donating to you are not teachers! Title 1 and ESL don’t mean much to the average person. However, they will understand “inner-city,” “economically disadvantaged,” “English as a second language” and “special needs.”
- Always check out the funding opportunities on DonorsChoose.org. This is where you will find half-off opportunities from companies and grants.
- Send home a thank-you note or class letter. This is where I give a “shout out” to all the wonderful parents and companies that donate to our projects. You will be surprised at how many parents will donate after seeing all the other parents who donate. I have also had some family-owned businesses donate so that they would get on this letter to advertise their business. Win-win for both of us!
- If you know what you and your students want to post in your next project but are having a hard time writing the proposal, search ideas on DonorsChoose.org. You will be amazed at all the wonderful ideas there are out there!
- If you have a large goal in mind, make sure you break it up into smaller goals. Currently, my goal is to fund a class set of laptops for my students. To achieve this goal, I am going to continually submit projects for 5 or less laptops at a time until my goal is reached.
Connect with Amanda on Twitter @PopIntoFourth and visit her DonorsChoose.org page at DonorsChoose.org/poplawski. To start your own DonorsChoose.org project, visit DonorsChoose.org/teachers.