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I had always been curious about Donor’s Choose. Does it work? How? Do people really pay for your stuff? It seemed a little bit weird.
I took over my current position from my student teaching mentor. That means that I did my student teaching in this room, with these kids last year. At the end of the year, they found out everyone was getting x amount of money for whatever they wanted next year. My mentor and I worked together to decide what would be the best items. I wanted some basic supplies: crayons, paper, pencils, and clipboards. And I reeeeeally wanted a parachute.
On the first day of pre-planning, everyone finds out that the budget was messed up, and no one got a start up order. Even though they had all submitted the paperwork to get it.
Oh! Except the new teachers. They can get one.
But, Ms. Davis, you are a music teacher. You have a music budget, so you don’t need start up money.
My music budget is all of $100 for supplies a year, and I am very stingy with it. I never want to spend it at the beginning, because I do not want to need it later on and not have it. So spending it at the beginning of the year did not sound very smart to me.
Instead, I decided to give Donor’s Choose a try.
My experience with Donor’s Choose was really good!
They were easy to use, accommodating, and helpful.
What is it?
Donor’s Choose is a website where teachers can post projects and people can fund them– whether they know you or not. It is a great way to get supplies that you need for your kids!
What do you do?
First, make your profile. It include a classroom photo, a profile picture, school, and classroom descriptions.
Your classroom photo should have kids in it. Make sure if you can see any faces, that there is a media release for that child. I try to avoid seeing kids’ faces at all, just in case. Here is my Donor’s Choose classroom photo. I picked it because it shows kids, it shows me, and we are actively doing things.
My profile picture is also of me teaching. I love this picture.
I entered my school and my classroom description. The description should talk about what makes your school different. Is it a magnet school? Are you really focusing on health or on reading? Is it in an inner city area? Put that in. The more information, the better.
But whatever you do, do not just talk about how awful it is that your school can’t afford anything. My basic theme is “Yes, my students are poor, but they can learn!” Show that you care about your students and want them to succeed. Talk about how they can succeed. Talk about things that will help them succeed.
Donor’s Choose does a good job showing examples of good descriptions so that you can have an idea of what to do.
They also let you pick a shorter URL. Here is mine, in case you want to check it out:
The you make a project! My first project was for crafting supplies.
You write a project description and pick your products. Include how many students will use them, and how they will use them for learning purposes. The more ideas, the better! Even if you do not plan to use them every single way in the first week, still just put them down.
You have to go through certain vendors to pick your products. But don’t worry, amazon is one of the approved vendors.
Here is what I asked for in my first project:
- Clipboards. I got these, but I wish I had gotten these, which have the pencil spot in them. Live and learn.
- Presharpened pencils
- Boxes of crayons—I opted for each kid to have their own box rather than a huge thing of them.
- Construction paper
- Jumbo popsiscle sticks
- Glue (probably should have gotten glue sticks too, but oh well)
- Pipe cleaners
Here is a link to the project, in case you want to know more about descriptions and things like that.
Then they ask you to share your project. You can do this via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. I was kind of embarrassed (I don’t know why, it just seemed weird to me that I was asking for money) so I only sent my project via email to a few people.
Don’t do that! Share that puppy on Facebook! You would be surprised by how many people will want to donate, even if it is only a few dollars. Everything helps.
I used a lot of my Donor’s Choose materials while traveling. Read about it in Traveling Music Teacher: What to Do When Not in Your Room
How long did it take to get funded?
I posted my project on Thursday, and it was completely funded by Monday.
Yes, that is right. Four days.
Granted, the only people who donated were my dad, my grandad, and Donor’s Choose, but still. It counts.
It goes to show that people who know you are most likely to donate. (Share it on Facebook!)
Supplies come straight to your school. You have to write an impact letter telling about how you have used your supplies (and make it good, so they will donate more). Your students will write thank you letters, which you will send to Donor’s Choose and they will send them to the donors (even if you know them, because you need to get credit for them). You will also upload project photos, AKA pictures of your kids doing the things you said they would do with the supplies that you got.
And then you are ready for your next project!
My next Donor’s Choose project will be to replace the tambourines that say “Fiscal Year 1986” on them and are falling apart. Although I will miss telling the kids they have to be careful because the tambourines are older than I am! This is effective since they have no concept of age and think I am 100 even though I am 22.
To see what we used the popsicle sticks for, check out Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm
Start with something smaller, just to get used to it.
Break big projects down into smaller ones. Four $250 projects are more likely to be funded than one $1000 project.
If it doesn’t get funded immediately, wait a few months and try again!
Put it on Facebook. Seriously. Just do it.
Not sure what to ask for? Look through my favorite teaching resources here.
Have you used Donor’s Choose before? Have any tips? Link your Donor’s Choose profile down below for more examples or tell us your tips! And of course, feel free to donate to my classroom!