Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How To (Sort Of) Stop Spending Your Own Money on Your Classroom

Hi everyone! It's Angie here again from The First Grade Scoop. We aren't quite back to school yet (I can start setting up my classroom next week), and I can assure you, my list of things to get for school is super long. However, I have a big way to keep your spending in your classroom minimized (well, at least as much as you can handle it!)...!

In case you haven't heard of it, is a website that allows public school teachers (including charter schools) to create projects requesting a wide range of classroom materials, from paints and brushes to books to living animals for science labs. You can request items from Lakeshore Learning (personal fave!), Amazon, Best Buy... You name it, pretty much everything is there. If they don't have it, you can put in a special request (although you'll need to earn more points for those).

They have plenty of tutorials on the DonorsChoose website, so I won't bore you with those here. However, in the past seven years, I've had over 50 projects funded (including five that were FLASH FUNDED last week, including a Mimio Board!), and I've definitely had plenty that haven't been funded. I'm here to offer some tips to help you have a successful project!

First, at least at the beginning, keep your projects smaller. I have had nearly all of my $200-$250 projects funded. You have to request a minimum of $100 in materials, then there are shipping costs and a donation to continue to fund DonorsChoose, so the total will go up a bit. If you'd like $400 worth of books, split them into two projects. Smaller projects are more attainable.

In your project description, be specific. What exactly will your students do with the books you're asking for? How will your students benefit from the phonics games you requested?

After your project is posted, spread the word! Usually, during the first week of your project being posted, there's a match offer for family and friend donations. This is a great way to get your project going.

You can also link your DonorsChoose to Facebook, so that donations show up in your feed. This helps spread the word even more!

Once you get funded, rock the thank yous. I've had several projects funded by the same couple of donors, who have also specifically said they love the thank yous students sent. I put mine in a presentation book (bound page protectors with an insertable cover) that I found in bulk on Amazon so they were about $1 a piece. You'll take photos of your students with the materials, and I also turn these into a photo collage to insert into the cover of the presentation book. All the kiddos get their thank you notes inside.

There are many amazing opportunities to get funded on DonorsChoose. About 20 minutes of time can really pay off big with donations to your classroom.

Happy back to school! I'll see you all next month!

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