You have an amazing idea to bring some new supplies or books into your classroom, or maybe a field trip that will make a huge difference for your students. And you know that creating a project on DonorsChoose.org is the best way to get exactly what you need for your classroom. But what’s the best way to get that project funded? For expert advice, we turned to some expert teachers. The exemplary educators on our Teacher Ambassador Team have collectively funded over 39,317 projects on DonorsChoose.org, and helped hundreds of their colleagues start their first projects. We asked them to share their best practices and tips for creating, posting, and funding projects on our site.
Before you get started…
Our teacher experts recommend searching for other funded projects for inspiration and checking out what match offers are currently available.
Check out what funding opportunities are available.
I love checking out the Match Offers page for possible matches. There are companies and organizations that will match donations on qualifying projects. Be sure to read the details of the match offer and then follow those directions.
-- Mrs. Fletcher, North Carolina
Ask for help from a DonorsChoose.org teacher at your school.
If you are creating your first project, reach out for help, find someone that has been successful in your school or district.
-- Mrs. Morosin, Oregon
Check out what other teachers are asking for.
Once you have a project idea, search other teachers’ projects similar to yours for ideas. Did they get a match offer? Are they getting support? Grab some inspiration from those projects.
-- Mrs. Jones, Mississipii
Be a savvy shopper.
As you plan your project use the DonorsChoose.org website to help. By searching the site for the items on your wishlist and narrowing the search to your grade level, you can see where teachers like you are shopping for similar items, the best price, and possibly new items or colors you hadn’t thought of yet. Being a wise shopper is always helpful!
-- Mrs. Webb, Illinois
Keep your project cost under $500.
Keeping your project cost low increases the chances of funding. One way you can keep your project cost lower is comparison shopping. Many items are available from multiple vendors. You may be able to find the same or similar items at a lower cost.
-- Mrs. Norris, Georgia
Break big projects up into smaller projects.
If asking for more expensive items, such as technology, ask for one item at a time.
-- Mrs. Walls, Kentucky
While creating your project…
Excite potential supporters with your essay.
When creating your project, describe it in a way that makes your audience want to be in your classroom. Help potential donors imagine what being a learner in your classroom feels like, and how their generosity will help your students.
-- Mrs. Booth, Iowa
Use Asset Framing.
Stay positive when describing your classroom, school, and community.
-- Ms. Heinlein, Hawaii
Keep your language simple and clear.
Remember to use "non-education lingo" since the majority of donors are not going to be in the education field. Make your project sound exciting and geared for the students’ needs, not the teacher's needs.
-- Mrs. Draper, Florida
Choose the right classroom photo to catch the supporter’s eye.
Choose a great classroom photo for your teacher page. Think of it as a book cover. You want potential donors to see it and think, "Wow! I need to read this!"
-- Mrs. Norris, Georgia
Once it’s live…
Use social media.
Don’t be afraid to put your project on social media! You never know who wants to support your classroom.
-- Ms. Pitts, Connecticut
Get the word out past your own network.
When you post on Facebook or other social media, change your privacy settings for your individual post to “public” and ask friends to share with their network even if they aren’t in a position to donate. This gets you a broader audience!
-- Mrs. Battle, Washington, DC
Build relationships before you ask for support.
When using social media, you need to build a presence and build relationships. Don't just post about your latest project(s). Share content and get involved in chats. Use hashtags. I have been successful with getting donors this way, but I am careful not to make my profile ONLY about DonorsChoose.org. People/Donors like to know that you are a real person!
-- Ms. Jacobs, South Carolina
Plug your project everywhere.
Share your project in as many ways as possible- email, social media, parent communication, etc. Also, talk about it with your students so that they are excited and spread the news! You never know who would like to support your classroom.
-- Mrs. Whitehurst, Illinois
Spread the word in your community.
Spread the word about your project wherever you go, grocery store, hair salon and ask to post flyers in different places to give your project more exposure.
-- Ms. Moore, North Carolina
Don’t forget your thank yous...
Once you have your project funded, put effort into making creative and sincere thank you cards. Thank you cards that are done well may spark a relationship with a donor bringing them back to donate again to your classroom.
-- Mrs. Hughes, Florida