There are as many ways to get your DonorsChoose.org request funded as there are teachers using the site. We asked six superstar educators in a diverse set of circumstances to share their best advice. Find a technique that’s a good fit for you… or try them all!
Ask Parents to Spread the Word
Looking for a good tip to help get your project funded? Let me share with you what I do. As soon as my request is live on the site, I send out an email letting my parents know there is a new project posted. I include the link to the project and, if there is a match offer, I make sure to clearly spell out the details. I then ask parents to share the project link on their social media. Most parents are willing because it is quick, easy, free, and effective. I recently had 12 projects fully funded using this technique. Give it a try!
Quantify Your Impact
I prove to my donors that they are maximizing their impact. For example, my most recent project was a request for a class set of graphing calculators. I explained that each graphing calculator would result in 10,000 hours of student use (6 hours per day of an 182-day school year for 10+ years). Quantify your level of impact by figuring out how many students will be affected by your project and for how long. If you’re nervous about making a mistake, check your math with a friend or colleague. Make it clear to donors that they are making a difference.
Double Down on Facebook
My number one tip for raising funds for projects is to post the project on Facebook. My friends, former students, and relatives follow me on Facebook, and they know all about my classroom from my frequent posts. When they are given an opportunity to help out, they always rise to the occasion. Many of the friends I made during my college years, when so many of us struggled, are now successful and extremely generous; they give early and often to my projects, and I know that I can count on them. Each time I post a project, I am always shocked at how many former students give. I really shouldn’t be surprised; these students remember what it was like to be in my classroom and to benefit from DonorsChoose.org—and now they are paying it forward. It most definitely warms my heart to see them do so. And while I’ve been out of high school myself for almost forty years, I can’t help but feel a tremendous wave of nostalgia when I see that one of my high school chums has made a donation to my classroom. So get that project up on Facebook, because the people who know you and care about your students are ready and willing to help.
Keep Students and Colleagues in the Loop
Our class has been blessed with amazing DonorsChoose.org donations, funding all of our proposed projects this year! We could not be more grateful. I really talk our projects up to students in class, and—when we get a donation—I make sure to show the class how the donation-counter moved forward and celebrate the donor. The pride on my students’ faces is brilliant to see, and it really helps them realize their goals are attainable.
Several teachers on my campus came to me, hesitant to begin a project, and I encouraged them to try it once. They were all blown away when every project was funded. We all post about our projects on Facebook and every time there is a new project posted, we all ‘Share’ each other’s projects. It’s great karma to promote each other!
Use Images to Make Your Project Stand Out
Kristina Holzweiss (Blog, Facebook Group)
They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, and that first impressions are made in seven seconds. Why not combine some of your favorite pictures and videos with words to market your DonorsChoose project? There are many apps and websites (i.e. Canva, Recite, buncee, printandshare.org) where you can create promotional images and thank-yous that will have lasting impact.
As an alternative, you can create your own collages on Microsoft Word or Google Docs by adding images and text boxes. Then take a screenshot, and you are ready to share through social media! I also suggest taking a screenshot of your project and adding some items you are requesting, so potential donors will appreciate what you are asking for. Lastly, take a screenshot of your thank-you letter preview before you post it. It’s a great way to thank all of your donors in one picture.
Diversify Your Outreach
Once your project is set to go, share, share, share! Remember those people that offered help? Catch them on social media. Include your project on your classroom newsletter and link to it in your email signature. Leave no channel untouched. I have found that when you share your project, friends who see it share with their friends. That network that surrounds you talks to each other and spreads that word that, for example, “Ms. Jones is in need of a class set of The Outsiders. I loved The Outsiders!” It’s as simple as that. I’ve even had alumni from our high school (class of ‘77!) donate because they remember being a student here. People want to help, they often don’t know how, and you just gave them the opportunity.
How do you get your projects funded? Share in comments!