7 DonorsChoose Tips for Success

Guest blog post by Francie Kugelman

Many of you know that Laura Candler and I produced a webinar a few years ago with great ideas on how to get resources for your classroom by using DonorsChoose. We’re excited to announce that we’ve been invited to do a new DonorsChoose webinar as guests on the Classroom 2.0 Live show! It will take place on March 8th at 12 noon EST, and we hope you’ll join us.

In August 2013, Laura and I began a community giving page called Caring Classrooms. In the six months since then, our community has raised over $40,000 for DonorsChoose projects, and helped over 30,000 students get the classroom resources they need. Last weekend we held a fantastic contest called Share the Love on DonorsChoose in which we raised over $3,000 in donations, and helped complete the funding on 14 different DonorsChoose projects. We also gave away $600 in DonorsChoose gift cards to lucky supporters of our giving page!

I love helping teachers learn successful strategies on writing DonorsChoose proposals and getting their projects funded, so I have listed some tips for getting your projects funded quickly and keeping donors happy:

    1. Upload a fantastic eye-catching photograph for your DonorsChoose identification picture because you want your project noticed by a potential donor. Have a catchy title, too, because you want your project to stand out amongst the thousands of other projects.
    2. Keep the resources in your shopping cart down to a total of $300 or less. DonorsChoose will add some additional costs such as shipping and fulfillment to your project, and you want to keep the total amount under $500 if possible. Projects that are not very expensive have a much higher chance of getting fully funded. Think like a donor – would you like to help a project that needs $50 more to fully fund or $2,000 more? Donors like to feel they are making an impact, and it is difficult to feel that way when your project is expensive. If you want 4 iPads, write four different proposals. There is nothing more disheartening than seeing your project end before it is fully funded.
    3. Whenever someone donates to your project, you receive a notice from DonorsChoose. As soon as possible, write a thank you in the donation section of your project, even if your project suddenly fully funds. Donors who are appreciated like to donate AGAIN to other projects you have. Make sure your thank you is meaningful and not too short.

    1. Take great pictures of your projects and happy students using the project resources. You can shoot close up pictures of your students’ faces in the photos, as the DC rules are different for thank you pictures. You just have to have the permission authorization on file for any students that are in your thank you photos. Donors love to see great pictures of happy students. Those photographs will inspire them to donate again to your projects. Donors can make you a “favorite” teacher, so whenever you post a project, your donor will be notified.
    2. Complete the thank you process promptly so you have a 100% completion rating. Often, your funded DC projects no longer require your students to write thank you letters. However, you still need to write an initial thank you note when you confirm the funding of your project. Once the resources are received, you need to upload 6 photographs of your happy students using the resources, and write a final impact letter.
      Donors look at your rating, and Laura and I do, too, when we are selecting projects for the Caring Classrooms giving page. Plus, once you complete the thank you process, you can post more DonorsChoose projects. When you are a new teacher to DonorsChoose, you are limited to 3 projects in process, but once you have established yourself, you can have a total of 8 projects in process! The more projects you successfully complete, the more points you accrue. Lots of points mean you can write special project proposals like funding a school bus field trip, or ordering resources from a special vendor.
    1. Donors love to donate to projects that have a lot of donations from many people. It shows donors that there is a huge support system behind this project! As soon as you post your project, donate to your own project and use the matching code Disney, Inspire, or 100women during the first week to double the donation. Give your brother a dollar and have him donate a dollar to your project using his email address. Do this for your entire family. Trade with friends by having them donate to your project and you donate to their project. Each new donor helps your project look very popular and desirable. Plus, projects with a lot of donors often get featured on the DonorsChoose Projects page. Once your project is there, it’s likely to be funded by a very generous donor you don’t even know!

  1. Become an active member of one or more giving page communities and post comments in their Facebook groups. I often donate to projects where I recognize an online teacher friend’s name. Besides Caring Classrooms, there are many wonderful community giving pages run by dedicated people who want to help teachers get their projects funded. When you post a comment on a community Facebook page, people begin to recognize your name and see you are an active member of the giving page community. We love to share the love, so get to know the people who are active giving page members.

DonorsChoose has helped me get the resources I need in my
classroom, whether it be a class set of my favorite read alouds, a document
camera, or a field trip bus. Receiving resources helps my students and me feel
special and loved. Good luck on getting the resources you need for your
classroom and school, and share successful tips you have too! If you would like to attend the webinar that I’m doing with Laura on March 8th, you can sign up here for us to send you a reminder. We’ll be sharing many more tips for success on DonorsChoose!

Francie Kugelman is a fifth grade teacher in Los Angeles.
She has had over 100 DonorsChoose projects successfully funded, totaling over
$65,000 in resources.