Welcome to our new blog | This page is still under construction; check out our most recent posts!

The Odds Are In Your Favor: How To Get Funded


We love teachers. Our CEO, Charles Best, made it clear in Fast Company feature story, highlighting DonorsChoose.org as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies In the World. We also get lots of questions about teachers using our site, for example:

  • Which teachers benefit the most from our site?
  • How teachers can crush the odds and get their projects funded? Unlike trying to sell your items on Ebay (~30% success rate), the chances of a teacher getting one of their projects funded on DonorsChoose.org is at 77%.
  • How does inequality in education affect types of resources teachers are requesting for their students?
  • and so many more.

Inspired by these questions, our data team is on a quest to publish a series of insights related to teacher data. Given the unrelenting efforts America’s teachers are putting into inspiring our children, this series is titled “America’s Rockstars: School Teachers”. This first post is focused on some overarching trends and questions. Unless mentioned otherwise, all data findings and results span our entire history (13 years).

1. What’s the likelihood of getting funded based on a grade level?

Irrespective of the grade for which a project was requested there was a ~70% chance of it getting funded. This number is 72% for projects that went live in 2012, highlighting increased likelihood of projects being funded on DonorsChoose.org, even though there are more projects competing for funding as compared to earlier years.

A likelihood of a project getting funded remains stable across all grades despite the fact that higher grades have far fewer (~2x fewer) project requests, as illustrated by a green bar chart.

– Less competition – same chances of winning? 
That might seem strange at first. At a closer look, the average cost of projects in Grades 9-12 is $866, compared to $655 in Grades 3-5. Controlling for these higher costs (and hence lower chances of receiving all required funding), and coupling that with less competition, high school teachers get similar probability of getting funded as teachers in other grades.

– Why is high school more expensive?
Don’t let the below chart mislead you, there are very few Trip and Visitor projects (less than 1% of all projects), so let’s focus on other project types.

The average cost for technology projects went up 35% from Pre K-2 to Grades 9-12. Consider that technology projects constitute ~ 30% of all project types, regardless of the grade level. Book costs rose 18%, while supplies hit a 35% mark, along with Technology. Clearly, technology wasn’t the only driver of higher costs. In future posts we’ll analyze most frequently requested resources and look at their costs structures (for example, are tablets and computers driving the averages up?) Might it be that high school projects benefit more students (and are purchased in larger quantities, despite having fewer projects)? We’ll find out.

As a visual treat, explore the distribution of projects by their category and poverty level.

2. What’s the likelihood of getting funded based on project type?

Looking at the projects posted in 2012, it becomes clear even to a casual observer that Technology projects are:
a. Numerous (36% of all projects)
b. Most expensive from the 4 most requested project types (orange bar)
c. Less likely to get funded than other project types (65% fundability or 15 percentage points less likely than the average likelihood, to be precise)

Books and supplies tend to be popular with donors, partly due to projects’ lower costs, partly due to perceived “importance”. However, we discovered that far beyond play, technology projects also bring essential educational tools into classrooms: https://www.donorschoose.org/blog/2013/03/22/ipads-in-the-classroom-its-a-tool-not-just-a-toy/

3. What’s the likelihood of getting funded based on school’s poverty level?

Well over half of all projects come from highest poverty schools (or schools with 65% or more students participating in free or reduced lunch program). And yet, projects from highest poverty schools have a 7 percentage point lead in their likelihood of getting fully funded as compared to the average.

4. How are linguistics affecting funding odds?

The infographic below was put together by our partners at Column Five Media in 2010. If you find any discrepancies with the results presented above, well, that’s because in the past 3 years the dynamics of our marketplace have shifted as we’ve grown from 200,000 funded projects in 2010 to 430,000 in the beginning of 2014. The infographic is still quite representative of crowdfunding dynamics, dives into yet unexplored linguistic areas and provides a happy medium for communication.

Browse Popular Topics

Looking for something specific?

Search the Blog

See posts for: