Guest blogger Michelle Ramos is an elementary teacher in La Mirada, CA.
What can you do if you’re a teacher at a school with limited resources, and you can’t ask your students' parents to support your project? I have some suggestions that have helped get my projects funded and I’m happy to share them with you.
My first and most important tip is to look and see what DonorsChoose.org funding opportunities are available. Many times, you can qualify for opportunities, such as match offers or full-funding, if your project meets certain requirements. Look at the qualifying criteria closely and use that to guide your project. For example, Target recently offered to fund projects that helped students exercise and eat healthy. I saw this opportunity to get materials my students really needed and created projects for sports equipment, yoga mats, and healthy snacks. All five of my projects received funding. If you decide to try and get a match offer, pay attention to two key things: the project requirements and the deadline.
Spread the Word
My favorite way to spread the word about my projects is word of mouth. Research shows that word-of-mouth is the best way to get information out. Plus, it’s easy to do and it’s free! Here’s one opportunity: When you meet people for the first time, they often ask what you do for a living. This is a great chance to talk about being a teacher and how glad you are that there is a wonderful website that helps get teachers get the things they need for their classrooms. If they express interest, I follow up with business cards that have my contact information and DonorsChoose.org teacher page address. Once people are aware of the website, you are halfway there. Often, people want to help teachers but don’t know how. You’ve just given them the opportunity. [You can make your own business cards here.]
To spread the word about your projects even more, think outside the box. For example—of course you want to make sure that your class webpage has a link to your DonorsChoose.org teacher page—but there’s no need to stop there! Many organizations have newsletters; offer to write an article about DonorsChoose.org and how it helps teachers. Include your teacher page link at the end of your article. I have written brief articles for different newsletters as well as a blog for the L.A. County of Education. Somewhere in each one I made sure that the following information was included: www.donorschoose.org/ramos. You never know who is going to read it and contribute.
Parents Can Help... Without Donating!
I believe most people want to help students and teachers but either don’t know how or have a limited budget. When I email students' parents about a project, I always tell them that it's fine if they can’t contribute! Instead, I ask them to post the link to our project on their social media and many are happy to do so.
Where There’s a Will...
Finally, don’t give up! Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Believe you can and you are halfway there.” I hope these tips help you get the rest of the way. Just remember: Be on the lookout for match offers and then, once you’ve submitted your request, get the word out to as many people as possible. You’ve got this!
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