Do you have a wish-list a mile long for things for your classroom, but can't afford it all yourself?  DonorsChoose can help!  DonorsChoose is a non-profit organization where teachers can go on, create a profile, and request items for their classroom.  Family, friends, student's parents, even strangers can make secure, tax-deductible donations to your project.  When it is funded, DonorsChoose purchases the items and sends them directly to your school.  You, the teacher, write a thank you letter, take pictures of the students using the items, and have the students write letters as well.  It takes about 20 minutes to write up a proposal and about an hour to gather all the materials for the "thank you package", but in the end, you have valuable supplies for your classroom that you wouldn't normally have!

I've raised over $4,000 for my classroom in the past five years!  I didn't have any projects during the 2009/2010 school year.  That is the year I had my daughter and returned to school part time for the rest of the year.  I guess I didn't have much time for fund raising that year! :)

Here are some tips for teachers who are new to DonorsChoose:
  • Browse the website to see how teachers word their projects.  It can help get an idea of what to write in each section.  I sometimes peruse other teacher's projects from my school district to get inspiration.
  • Link your DonorsChoose account to your Facebook page.  Many of my projects have been funded by family and friends who saw my project on my Facebook page.  People's generosity is surprising and heartwarming.
  • Look on the eMall (online shopping page through Donorschoose) to see what products they offer.  They only do business which certain vendors and it can be hard to get certain types of items.  For example, I wanted to get book bags through Really Good Stuff.  They are not a preferred vendor, and I was unable to make a special request for the bags since the DonorsChoose staffer who reviewed my project thought I could find similar products through a preferred vendor.  Needless to say, I was unable to find what I wanted and that project was never submitted.
  • Keep an eye out in the media for special offers for free DonorsChoose codes.  When the movie Waiting for Superman came out, they offered $3 codes just for pledging to see the movie. offered $3 codes for changing your homepage to Bing.  I sent an email to friends and families asking them to partake in these special offers and got several projects funded last year because of it. 
  • Don't forget to send in your Thank You Package on time.  There is a little Thank You % at the end of your profile that people can see.  If it is less than 100%, people will be less inclined to donate to your class.  I always set my Thank You Package date to the last possible day allowed, giving myself plenty of time to get it in.

To say that I am obsessed with DonorsChoose is an understatement!  They have partnered up with some great companies to give even more to teachers:, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sonic Drive-ins, Horace Mann insurance company, even Stephen Colbert endorses DonorsChoose on his show The Colbert Report (Stephen is on the Board of Directors, too!)

Now get out there and make a project or donate to one.  :)

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