21 Ways: (1) Donors Choose

Last year, I cut back on the stuff I gave for Christmas. While my younger siblings still got books, other family members got gift certificates to various charities in leiu of gifts. Thus, this. Each day from here to 2010, I’ll be posting one charity, NGO or non-profit I can get behind in the spirit of giving.

Be No. 1... Give to Public Schools in Need! - Go to DonorsChoose.org
Starting off easy, today with Donors Choose.

I speak first-hand about the help Donors Choose can provide when funds for supplies are low.

Launched in 2000 and sprouting from a Bronx high school, Donors Choose operates as a community grant funding organization built specifically to help classroom teachers. Though the majority of the proposals are for classroom supplies, Donors Choose also hosts proposals to help with field trips, furniture and the like.

Donors can search for projects close to their heart, a certain type of school, or geographic location. Donations can be of any amount. If a project you’ve donated to is only partially funded by the deadline, Donors Choose will send you an e-mail asking you to choose one of these options:

  1. You choose a project to support. This option lets you browse through the many wonderful projects at DonorsChoose.org and find one that inspires you.
  2. We choose a project that’s in urgent need of funding on your behalf. This option is quick and easy, and gets resources into a high need classroom.
  3. The teacher chooses a new project. This option is the best way to ensure that your donation is used by the same teacher and classroom you originally supported.

Once a project’s fully funded, Donors Choose handles all the messy work of purchasing and shipping the materials. Teachers never handle the money, so there’s no accounting accountability over their heads.

The process doesn’t end once a project is funded. Classrooms are held accountable by Donors Choose and asked to complete a Thank You Packet including photos of students using the purchased materials, thank-you cards from students and a letter of impact from the teacher.

After the successful submission of the Thank You Packet, teachers are awarded points that allow them to post more and / or larger proposals. Failure to submit a Thank You Packet can result in a teacher’s removal from Donors Choose. From what I’ve seen, this means a certain level of quality is maintained.

If you’re looking to donate directly to a project, head to the Donors Choose page. If you’re looking to gift a donation, head here.


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