- A total of 30 school districts now belong to the District Partnership Program of DonorsChoose, a platform that helps districts and teachers crowdfund for school supplies and other resources. The program, launched a few months ago, provides support for teachers who use the crowdfunding program, ensures safety and security of donations, and aligns with each district’s strategic priorities, according to DonorsChoose.
- DonorsChoose gives districts a customizable landing page allowing them to monitor all donations. Principals receive alerts when projects are funded, and schools are notified when new funding opportunities arise for teachers.
- DonorsChoose connects public schools to donors through partnerships. The website of the 19-year-old organization claims it has raised nearly $1 billion, funded about 1.56 million projects and helped more than 83,000 schools. It also says efficiency and transparency is the reason DonorsChoose has earned the highest rating on Charity Navigator.
Many organizations — and even some individuals — have turned to crowdfunding to raise money for specific causes and projects. Educators are beginning to turn to this source, as well, to compensate for the lack of funds available for classroom projects and supplies. Over the past decade, hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised for classrooms through crowdfunding efforts.
The initiative is often a win-win, as schools and teachers can request money for specific projects, and donors both large and small can select to support the projects they are drawn to. The GoFundMe and EdCo crowdsource sites also are in the education market.
While the practice is gaining in popularity, however, some districts forbid teachers from participating over concerns teachers may misuse or keep the raised money.
To clear up the confusion, Chiefs for Change recently released a crowdfunding guide for K-12 schools and teachers, developed in partnership with EdSurge and designed to protect educators and donors. EdSurge consulted with more than 40 district leaders and crowdfunding experts, finding districts were concerned the practice could violate district policies or state laws.
Nevertheless, teachers continue to spend their own money on classroom supplies. California teachers, on average, spend $664 of their money on classroom supplies — the highest amount in the country. Michigan teachers spend $628, a close second. Nationally, teachers spend an average of $459 out of pocket annually on supplies.