7 Tips for Setting up a Successful Project on DonorsChoose.org

How to make your project stand out and get funded.

7 DonorsChoose Tips for Teachers - WeAreTeachers

In thousands of classrooms across the country, funding is tight. Teachers have had to get creative to find money for special projects and sometimes even basic classroom supplies. That’s where setting up a successful DonorsChoose.org project can make all the difference. 

Founded in 2000 by a high school teacher in the Bronx, DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit organization that empowers public school teachers from across the country to set up projects to request materials and experiences for themselves and their students. Over 1.25 million projects affecting over 30 million students have been funded to date.

Your project can include anything you need—from technology (like Chromebooks and iPads) to classroom needs (like basic supplies, flexible seating, chapter books, or curriculum sets). And DonorsChoose.org projects aren’t just for material goods. Some examples of experiences teachers are currently requesting include field trips, professional development programs, and speaker fees.

Setting up a DonorsChoose project is simple. Start here to set up your teacher account and watch a tutorial for step-by-step directions to enter your project information.

Before you get started, though, check out our top seven tips for helping you craft the most compelling, successful DonorsChoose.org project possible.    

1. Do your research.

Spend some time poking around the website and looking at other projects. What, in your opinion, makes a project look and sound attractive? Which projects would you be tempted to donate to? Focus especially on projects that are along the same lines as yours. Get a feel for what others are doing.

2. Make your story compelling.

Is there something that will make your story really stand out? Start with an eye-catching title. Tug at people’s heartstrings by including an adorable photo of your class. Most importantly, craft the best story for why you set up your project and how it will impact your students. 

3. Start small.

DonorsChoose.org projects are an all-or-nothing proposition. That is, if your project doesn’t get fully funded, you get zero materials. So it makes sense to start small (under $300). If your dreams are bigger than that, you can always break the project into phases. People who choose to donate want to know that their contribution will make a difference. So if you set a goal that seems easily attainable, people will be more likely to jump on the bandwagon.  

4. Find match offers.

DonorsChoose.org will match funding on your first project. That’s like getting a two for one without even trying! There is also an extensive list of sponsors that match funds for particular requests. Click here to learn more.

5. Shop carefully.

Know what you’re looking for and which vendor is the best match for your project. Click here to get more information about choosing the best supplier for your needs. To find sources for commonly requested items, check out this link.

6. Get the word out.

Once your project is all set up on DonorsChoose.org, the most important part of your project begins: letting everyone you can think of know about it. Post messages on your classroom Facebook page, in your school newsletter, on Twitter, and other social-media platforms. Talk to parents at conferences or when you’re on duty before or after school. Let them know how easy it is to contribute as much or as little as they can afford. 

7. Say thank you!

And of course, once your project has ended and you’ve received the materials or funds you requested, it’s essential that you let your donors know how grateful you are for their help. Send out thank-you notes with a follow-up photo that shows your students enjoying the benefits of the donors’ generosity. You’ll feel good, and they’ll feel good. It’s a win-win!  

For more inspiring tips to make your project as successful as possible, read Your Guide for Creating a Stellar Project.

Have you had success funding a classroom project on DonorsChoose.org? Come share your story on our WeAreTeachers HELPLINEon Facebook.

Plus, 20 Best Money Saving Tips for Teachers.

Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a passionate teacher, writer and mom who loves learning new things, traveling the globe and everything Zen.

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