Why I Love DonorsChoose.org

Imagine making a donation to a cause that you really believe in, one that you believe will make a difference. Then imagine getting personalized hand-drawn thank you notes like the one above, telling you how awesome you are.

Well that pretty much describes how the online charity DonorsChoose.org works. Its mission is  to “engage  the public in public schools by giving people a simple, accountable and personal way to address educational inequity. We envision a nation where children in every community have the tools and experiences needed for an excellent education.”

This is accomplished by allowing public school teachers from anywhere in the U.S. to post classroom project requests on the DonorsChoose.org web site, and then donors can give any amount, from $1 to the full amount requested, to the project that most inspires them.

Over the past couple of years my wife and I have actively sought out projects that are focused on areas that we are passionate about, such as reading, math, special needs, and fitness. Below are examples of some of the projects we have donated. Similar to Kickstarter, if a project does not get all of the money it is seeking, the project does not get funded. For projects that do not get funded, donors get their donations returned as account credits, which they can use in a variety of ways. Fortunately, all of the projects shown below received fully-funding.

  • Let’s Get Bouncy With It! “Some students with autism need more movement than others. When students with autism use a ball chair, the movement allows their brains to be engaged. They tend to focus better.  My students need 2 ball chairs to help with their sensory processing disorders.” Project cost $320
  • Math Mania: “My students are high energy with a desire to have fun while learning! They are averaging 2 to 3 years below grade level, and have become frustrated with routine learning. This could be the year that they not only learn to love Math, but improve their Mathematical knowledge. My students need high-interest Math games and flashcards to spark their interest in Math and provide an opportunity to increase their mathematical knowledge.” Project cost: $352
  • Non-Fiction Book Nook: “Non-fiction books bring the wonders of our world to young readers. My students love to read and are interested in everything. I hope to promote their interests by providing them with non-fiction books that are written on a level they can comprehend. My students are 2nd grade girls and boys (7 and 8 years old). They love school, love books and want to succeed. They enjoy helping me in our classroom and are very sweet children. Our K-4th grade school is in a large urban area and dearly needs additional funding.” Project cost: $769

Google is such a believer in DonorsChoose.org that it recently  “flash-funded” every project in 11 different communities, for a total donation of over $3.5 million. Other organizations have done similar flash-funding. The College Football Playoff Foundation and ESPN fully funded all DonorsChoose.org classroom projects in the host cities of Dallas Independent School District and the Arlington Independent School District in Texas. News Corp has “flash funded” hundreds of classroom projects for schools in Brooklyn.

These organizations recognize the power of education, and the importance of giving every child access to a quality education. At a time when many schools are faced with inadequate public funding. initiatives such as DonorsChoose.org play a critical role.

I also feel better knowing that DonorsChoose.org has earned a 4-star designation (the highest rating available) from Charity Navigator, an organization that evaluates the Financial Health, Accountability, and Transparency of charitable organizations.

DonorsChoose.org is a brilliant idea, showing the power of the Internet to bring people together to make a difference.

Plus you get cool pictures like this:

and as Seth Godin says, “Applause is great. We all need more of it.”