The magic of DonorsChoose is that teachers request the materials their students need most — and then boxes of supplies arrive at their classroom door!
Here’s what happens in between: When a teacher posts a request for their classroom, the DonorsChoose community and generous partners provide much of the funding needed. We encourage that teacher to reach out to 1-2 folks from their own community and — with these powers combined— the project gets all the donations it needs and we send the supplies directly to the classroom.
A few simple tweaks can help every classroom project be successful. Teachers at Equity Focus Schools around the country shared their best tips for how they get their projects funded — and how you can, too!
1. Keep your project total low
“My main tips for getting projects funded are [to] keep the project total low… and watch for matches that you qualify for!” – Ms. Mattox, kindergarten teacher
Smaller requests are likely to get funded quickly. In fact, projects under $200 have a 90% chance of being funded, while projects over $1000 are funded only about 43% of the time.
Pro tip: Need more than $200 in supplies? Create a couple of projects under $200 — and watch as they’re fully-funded in a snap!
2. Pay attention to match offers
“Create a project when there are 2X matches and funding opportunities.! Advertise the match on social media, even in advance of the project getting approved.” – Dr. Ramos, second grade teacher
Generous people, companies, and foundations often offer matching gifts for projects meeting certain criteria. That means donations to your project can be multiplied instantly! Check out the current match offers to see what kinds of projects they’re funding and how you can qualify.
Pro trip: Bookmark that match offer page and check it frequently. It’s consistently updated with new offers.
3. Share, share, share!
“Share, share, share! It always makes a difference. Sometimes I ask friends and family to share rather than give.” – Ms. Douma, high school teacher
“Share, Share, Share, EVERYWHERE! Think outside the box! Is there a group or organization that supports your project’s cause? If so, share with them! When we had a project to help teach CPR to students, I found a senator in another state that supported the same mission and shared my project with him!” – Ms. Leanna, middle school health clinic educator
“Share on social media! Share! Share! Share!” – Ms. Wilson, fourth grade teacher
“Share with people outside of social media too! Print those flyers, and go to small local businesses, your doctor, etc. and ask for support. You would be surprised how many do not know about DonorsChoose, and how many are very happy to donate.” – Ms. C., kindergarten teacher
People want to know about the great work you're doing! Even if they can’t donate, many will be happy to spread the word for you.
Novice tip: Wherever you share your project, be sure to include a link to your DonorsChoose teacher page. It’s a one-stop shop for them to see (and support!) you and your students. Check out more sharing tips in this post.
4. Word choice matters
“I like to write my project in a way that is honest to my experience with my students. I describe what I think would help my students learn and succeed. [I try to] best express the sentiments I feel, and how I think my students would feel, about the potential of [receiving the items].” – Ms. Handler, elementary school teacher
Here are a few other tips for writing your project description:
- Tell a story. Illustrate why and how the project will help your class. Here's a great example: "Flexible seating allows students to take charge of their learning and make the choices that work best for them. My students are noticeably more engaged in their work and less disruptive to their peers when they are given a choice of where to work."
- Beware of jargon. If you use acronyms like the name of a standardized test or "ELMO," make sure you explain them. (Most donors will picture the Sesame Street character, not a useful document camera!)
- Double check spelling and grammar. Donors love to see that you've put time and care into your project.
- Let your students shine. When writing about your students, focus on their interests, strengths, and aspirations — not just their struggles. Ask yourself if your students and their parents would feel proud of themselves after reading your essay.
5. Be patient
“In my experience, most projects get funded in time. If I am willing to wait (and even re-post on the rare occasion that it is not funded the first time), the project will eventually be funded. This is particularly true if the price of the project is not too high.” – Ms. Handler, elementary school teacher
Follow these teacher tips and give our community a chance to support you and your students!