I know I’m not alone when I say that I spend hundreds of dollars of my own money on classroom supplies and materials during the school year. My family and friends are always in disbelief when this gets brought up, but to me, it’s just part of what I do. While spending my own money on my students doesn’t necessarily bother me, it’s definitely nice to not have to do this every single time I need or want to make an addition to my classroom, which is why I have used DonorsChoose.org to get projects funded for my classroom.
What is DonorsChoose.org?
DonorsChoose is a platform that allows teachers to create fundraisers for materials or experiences that they would like to bring to their students. You provide some background about your students, create a description of what you are raising money for, and provide prices and logistics surrounding the materials or experience. Then, once your project is approved, it becomes published and available to accept donations.
Before I used DonorsChoose for the first time, I was really nervous and apprehensive about trying it. One of my coworkers had suggested it to me, and I had seen the success she had with it, so I figured I’d give it a shot. The worst that could happen was my project wouldn’t get funded.
When my first project proposal was approved, I texted the link to a few friends and posted it on my Facebook with a short description. I didn’t quite know how people would react. I was self-conscious that people would receive it as me soliciting money, but the reality was the complete opposite.
My first project was fully funded in less than a week.
To date, I’ve had 3 projects funded through DonorsChoose.
Project #1: Handheld translation devices- I am an ESL teacher and my classroom is made up of students with a variety of English language proficiency levels, so these are awesome for translating task directions or answering clarifying questions that the students don’t yet have the vocabulary to answer in English.
Project #2: Carpet squares- My classroom doesn’t have a carpet, and I just don’t feel right having the children sit directly on the floor. These carpet squares are great for whole-group or small-group instruction and also serve as flexible seating options.
Project #3: Apple TV- This is my most recently funded project, and I’m still discovering all of the amazing ways to use it in a classroom. My favorite utilization for it so far is the ability to screen-share my iPad onto the SmartBoard. There are a ton of educational apps that you can have a lot of fun with by using them alongside an Apple TV in your classroom.
If you’re still feeling hesitant to set up a project on DonorsChoose, here are a few things I learned through my experience:
1. It saves you money. Very obvious, but very fantastic.
2. It’s an opportunity to share what you do. Since you get to write a description for the fundraiser, anyone who looks at your page has the opportunity to learn about what you do and who you are as a teacher. I had friends text me and tell me how cool they thought my project & classroom dynamic are and this felt really good!
3. People who care about you want to support you. I was so nervous when I posted my first project that people would be annoyed by it, but the more I thought about it, I realized that this wouldn’t be my reaction if a friend or family member posted a fundraising page. Don’t overthink. I had 3 people message me after my project was funded and say, “I wanted to donate to your project, but it was already fully funded!”
4. It can be a learning experience for your students. You can have the students help you write about why you are fundraising and how the project will benefit the classroom. It will allow them to feel involved and heard, and this will make them appreciate the whole experience more. My students also wrote thank-you notes describing the impact of the materials.