Wednesday, July 10, 2013

DonorsChoose: How to Get Free Stuff for Your Classroom

This four-day blogging hiatus brought to you by the first sunshiny days we've had in 1,988,345 weeks.  (Or something like that).  Now back to rain, and back to business . . . 

How often do you find yourself wishing you had something (novel sets, a new LCD projector, a document camera, art supplies) for your classroom?  That beginning-of-year stipend doesn't go very far, and neither do our paychecks.  I discovered DonorsChoose very early in my teaching career, and it has been my best-kept secret for getting classroom needs met ever since.  So much so that sometimes I am hesitant to share because I'm afraid others' projects will get funded instead of mine.  Getting past my only-child syndrome, I've decided to share.

It's free to sign up for an account.  Once you've done that, go ahead and make your first "project"-- basically a list of materials you need, chosen from their many online options, and an explanation of how you'll use the materials.  Projects take me about 30 minutes to put together, and then they have up to four months to be funded.  More often than not, they actually get funded!  You can even link your account to your Facebook page so that it sends updates there; I've received local donations several times since I made that connection.  DonorsChoose even offers codes sometimes that will double a donation made by a friend or family member.

You can visit my page here to see all of my projects.  I've had the following projects funded during the past several years:

  • Celebrating Home with Local-Interest Appalachian Texts
  • High School Freshmen Need Novels!
  • Spanish Students Need High-Interest Reading Materials!
  • Basic Supplies Needed
  • Inspire My 9th Grade English Students to Love to Read
  • Organization=A Better Learning Experience
Right now, I only have one running (although a teacher can have up to eight), which is titled "New High School Newspaper Class Needs Resources."  It only has 37 days left, and though it's partially funded, it probably won't get there in that time frame.  It happens.  In my years with DonorsChoose, I've created eleven projects.  Six of them were fully funded.  I don't think those odds are bad-- it's certainly worth a try!  Honestly, the projects that seem to get funded most frequently are typically lower-cost (under $400)and more basic.  For example, my projects for high-end technology needs haven't been funded yet.  Books and school supplies rock those donors' socks!  

The sum total of items donated to my classroom since I began in 2011 is $1659.08. I keep a project running all the time-- when one expires or gets funded, I make sure I dream up a new one.  I'm not sure why every public school teacher isn't on DonorsChoose.  There's no time like summertime, y'all!

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