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Project Lifecycle: Peek Behind the Scenes and Learn How a Project Comes to Life


Ms. Fudge is a fourth-grade reading teacher at a public school in Manhattan. Her students have always loved being transported into a whole new world within the books they read. Her student's enthusiasm for reading is a huge reason why she went into teaching, Ms. Fudge wants her students to share the same love for books that she has. Her students have shown an interest in graphic novels, and she wanted to provide her students with new graphic novels to read. To help Ms. Fudge bring graphic novels into her class library, a colleague suggested Ms. Fudge check out DonorsChoose, an online platform that makes it easy for anyone to support a classroom in need. Teachers can post projects to request tools and experiences students need for an excellent education.

Once teachers post a project on DonorsChoose, they are ready to fundraise! Teachers can complete their fundraising requests through a combination of individuals from their network and support from partners. 75% of classroom funding comes from outside of a teacher's network! Ms. Fudge loved the idea of creating a project requesting resources for her classroom and subscribed to receive emails from DonorsChoose to stay up to date on funding opportunities. 

If you're a teacher subscribed to our email, you've probably read our emails to shout out new classroom rewards and match offer opportunities. And if you're a donor, you've probably seen these offers in action when you donate to matched projects. Teachers can come in contact with our staff in a multitude of ways during a single one of these opportunities. Let's follow Ms. Fudge's journey of bringing her classroom dream to life. 

Let’s follow Ms. Fudge, a fourth-grade teacher in New York City, as she creates and fundraises for her project.

While scrolling through our site, Ms. Fudge found a match for TOON Books. TOON Books’ mission is to create high-quality comics for students to make meaning out of reading with the aid of visuals. TOON Books partnered with DonorsChoose because they are interested in supporting students and teachers who LOVE books (AKA, Ms. Fudge)! One of our partnership managers, Rianne, connected with TOON Books and worked to bring this funding opportunity to life. Together, Rianne and TOON Books set up a game plan on how to help get more funding into classrooms: a match offer where every donation gets doubled for teachers requesting graphic novels for their students! Once the plan was ready, Rianne passed the baton to Ky and Jasmine, on our Marketing & Community and this is how teachers received their first interaction with us! 

The Marketing & Community team delivers the latest news to teachers.

Ky tailored our outreach with each partnership so that interested teachers who likely qualify for the opportunity are in the loop (this can look like an email or a phone call from us!). Ky’s marketing plan for the TOON match included an email for Ms. Fudge and her fellow teachers, which Jasmine sent out to 10,000 teachers. The new project Ms. Fudge created for this match was screened by our teacher volunteer team. 

If Ms. Fudge has any questions, our Operations team is ready with answers!

When Ms. Fudge hit a snag in creating her project, she wrote into our Customer Support team. One of our 13 specialists who answer all teacher and donor queries, Kierran, had her back on track within 2 days! Kierran was able to add the TOON Books match offer code to Ms. Fudge’s project, and all of the donations made to her project were matched. Ms. Fudge was all set to start fundraising and getting closer to fulfilling her goal for her students! 

The Finance and Fulfillment team purchases classroom resources for teachers. 

DonorsChoose works with over 20 vendors to deliver materials, such as books, to teachers. For Ms. Fudge’s project, Abigail from the Business Relations team worked with AKJ Education, the vendor that sells TOON Books, to help ensure there is sufficient inventory for every teacher who will request graphic novels for this match. 

When Ms. Fudge’s project was fully funded (yay!), she received the great news through our famous “rocket ship” email and logged onto her teacher page to confirm funding for her project. By confirming, Ms. Fudge gave Dot, from the Fulfillment team, the thumbs up to order her materials. The Fulfillment Operations & Strategy ensures that requested materials are purchased and shipped to the right place.

After AKJ Education’s team packages the order, Ms. Fudge will be able to track the delivery on her teacher account. These shipping notices are one of the many ways that the Fulfillment Operations & Strategy works to create transparency for teachers and donors involved. Once the team confirms Ms. Fudge’s requested books shipped to the correct school address, Dana from our Finance team will then pay for the books, just like Ms. Fudge’s donors expected. 

Ms. Fudge received her TOON graphic novels within 2-weeks from the date Dot placed the order. When it was time for independent reading, her fourth-grade students were excited to see their classroom library filled with cool new books to read.

Heart-warming thank you notes from students help donors feel connected.

Our not-so-secret special sauce on every project is the thank-yous teachers share after experiences and materials are delivered. These “Thank You Packages” contain handwritten/drawn student thank-you letters, an impact letter from the teacher describing the way the materials were used, and 6 photos of the students using the materials. The handmade thank-you letters that Ms. Fudge’s students send will remind donors of the impact that they help make on students and classrooms who get to learn important and unforgettable lessons with their new supplies. 

The Content and Volunteer Operations team handles all the thank-you packages we receive to review, organize and mail handwritten thank-you notes to donors. It’s always beautiful to receive amazing hand-drawn creative, glittery, and sweet notes from students; to see our latest policy on thank-you packages, visit our help center article.

If you’re a teacher and want to see these cool emails we are sharing, check if you’re already subscribed here! And if you're a teacher looking to start a project or a donor looking to donate, check out our match offers page to live this process with us and discover the many ways you could help students! 

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