February 17, 2011

Donors Choose

Waiting for Stella still. I have a few posts that I've been meaning to share until then!

I'm sure you've all heard of donorschoose.org. I wanted to tell you some details about it so you can see if it is the best way to get your idea funded. For some projects it's the easiest and best way. . . for others (like large projects, projects that involve guest speakers or field trips) you might want to find your funding else where especially if you have time constraints. 
That being said, I was so surprised with how quickly my project got funded and how many people support the arts throughout the country!

1. How to begin?
You start with 3 points. You spend points by making a request. $400 or less you use 1 point. $401-$800=2 points, more the $801=4 points.
If you want to order something from another catalogue (they offer basics like school smart etc.) it costs you 6 points. If you want to request a class trip it is 6 points. A class visitor is also 6 points.
2. How do you earn more points? 
Confirm you want your materials that were donated within 6 days.
Return thank you package before its due date that is complete and compelling.
Do these things and you will get 3 points.
So if you're doing math You used might have used 1 point out of your 3 then you earned another 3 so that equals 5 points. Still not enough to make 6 points!
3. How to get funded?
My project was funded surprisingly quickly! In under three months I had a classroom library full of posters. I think it was because I involved the whole school. My posters are shared with all the classroom teachers so they can use them for writing prompts etc. Also it is something that will stay with the school long after I leave. Finally I think the picture was really great (if I do say so myself!) and encouraged people to donate to the cause.

I really wanted to request a green house or gardening supplies but couldn't order from home depot until I earn 6 points! I am happy with the posters but it's not the ultimate goal. So instead of making a request just to earn points I asked my friend the P.E. teacher to use my account to make a request for some pedometers she needed. She got funded within a month and now we will have enough points for our Green Team request for gardening supplies. Whew! What a process.


Update. . . since getting the posters I've noticed that they have not been being used by me or other teachers! Sad. . . I need to change this. Mainly because to keep them available to teachers (without them interrupting my class to get them) the posters need to be in the book storage room which is on the third floor (hiking up there pregnant wasn't easy!) and people forget about them. I bought a rolling clothes rack with clip hangers to hang them on so teachers could easily thumb through the prints instead of sticking them in a box.
 Maybe there's a better way to store them? Perhaps in the library? But how without spending a fortune? Or maybe I could display them with a scavenger hunt for teachers to let their kids go on who need a break from the classroom in the middle of this indoor recess winter?
I'm wondering if there's a way to make using art in the classroom more fun or accessible to classroom teachers? Any ideas?


Vicki@MorePowerfulBeyondMeasure said...

WOW! Donors Choose has changed a bit since I received my donation, or I didn't fully understand the whole process. Congratulations on your prints! I asked for canvases for all my second grade students last year and was funded very quickly. This year I haven't been funded on my request for a document camera. Oh well, maybe I better revisit their site. Best, Vicki

Phyl said...

This is all new to me. I'll have to check it out.

Re: the prints - storage/sharing is a problem. Last year I got a beautiful set of large gorgeous prints of American art through the National Endowment for the Humanities "Picturing America" grant program. It was brainlessly easy to apply. So I have these 40 images, and have them stored in a large drawer in my classroom, and other than a couple of teachers who've used them a couple of times, nobody has bothered. And there's no way I can use them all in the space of a year. And my other art prints are getting squished in the drawer and it's a pain to get out what you need. I wish there was another place to store them all for easy access.

Mrs. Art Teacher said...

Thanks for reminding us about donors choice. They day you wrote this post I had just found out I would not be receiving the 2nd half of my budget for the year and I was stumped on how to get some materials into my classroom quickly. I had spaced donors choice. I'm almost done with my first proposal and am excited to see if we get funding to buy the materials we need to complete our printmaking unit!

Unknown said...

I hope you get it! You probably will. Look also for companies that do matching programs. We have an insurance company in the area that will match donations to our schools. I don't know exactly how to figure that out but you might be able to e-mail donors choose to see. The company had told my friend about their matching program.

Christine said...

I have that same Take5 set of prints. I have them stored vertically in a print storage unit (maybe something to add to your donors choose list- about $100 from blick i think). It is really easy to flip through them this way. Also I had a mom cut up the small images of each print from the past few art supply catalogues that sell Take 5 and cut & paste them into a note book alphabetically by artist. This makes it really easy to see which prints I have for me to use or classroom teachers. Hope that makes sense and is helpful.