This summer I presented two sessions at the 2018 Statewide Conference for Education of the Deaf. I am thanking my lucky stars because I stuck around for Ashley Pickens’ session on grant writing. She shared great information on DonorsChoose.org. This educator knows what she is talking about. Check out her credentials:
- Ashley is a Deaf Education Teacher in the Capital Area Regional Day School Program for the Deaf at McNeil High School.
- She is a Texas DonorsChoose.org Ambassador and Project Screener. Before every classroom project is posted and publicly searchable on DonorsChoose.org, trained teacher volunteers screen the project. These teacher volunteers verify that the teacher and the project meet the DonorsChoose eligibility requirements and follow up with any questions or concerns.
- Ashley’s first project for two Nook ebooks was funded in 2011. Year to date, Ashley has had 53 projects given the go ahead. Check out her DonorsChoose classroom here.
What is DC?
DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit organization that helps public school teachers create classroom project requests and allows donors to pick the projects they want to support at the level they can afford. Charles Best launched Donors Choose.org in 2000.
What can be funded?
There are three categories available for teachers seeking funding through DonorsChoose: professional development, materials, and field trips
Who can apply?
The following personnel working at U.S. public schools AND charter schools may apply for funding:
- Head Start teachers
- School nurses
What do I do to get started?
- Create an account (this is the longest part).
- Make your teacher page compelling, complete with a photo and blurb about your students.
Five pieces of expert advice
In her session on grant writing, Ashley didn’t just tell me about DonorsChoose, she also offered some valuable advice for making projects more successful which I will share with you, too. Here are Ashley’s top tips.
- Keep the donation request from $100 to $400! Projects less than 400 dollars have a much better chance of getting fulfilled.
- Think of a clever title for your project.
- Don’t sound needy. Don’t beg. Be authentic!
- Wait for match offers before submitting your project. For example, a project of $300 can turn quickly into a project that only needs $150. From time to time, companies and foundations that partner with DonorsChoose.org will match individual donations if projects meet certain criteria. A double-your-match impact can be based on a topic or the location of your school. Check out current match offers here to see if your school qualifies for any.
- Get your project to rise to the top! It’s all about the website’s algorithm. Your project will rise in the ranks of available projects the more donors you have. Get 10-12 friends to donate a dollar. Donate a few dollars to your own project. This shows you believe in your own project.
Last But Not Least
As people donate to your project, make sure you THANK each donor. These people have given their hard-earned dollars and have taken the time to search out just the right classroom to fund. Let them know how much you and your students will benefit from their support.
You can find more great tips on getting your project funded in this blog. Good luck!