Using Donors Choose to Support Student Learning Donors Choose User Guide January 2011 Donors Choose User Guide I. Introduction and Background DonorsChoose.org is a non-profit organization that began in 2000. Charles Best, a social studies teacher in the Bronx, began DonorsChoose to align potential donors with classrooms and students in need. The idea was to allow donors to see the direct impact their donations were having on students and learning in the classroom. Since 2000, DonorsChoose has spread to public schools all 50 states and been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal, CNN, NPR, and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Colbert. II. Creating Your Account To create projects on DonorsChoose you must first create an account with your information. Here are the key steps: 1. Go to www.donorschoose.org 2. Click on “My Account” in the top right-hand corner of the screen 3. In the box on the left that says “First Time?”, click the circle next to “I am a public school teacher” and then click “Proceed” 4. On the next page, read the requirements for eligibility 5. If you meet the requirements, click “I meet all of the above requirements.” 6. On the next page, complete the personal information and sign-in information 7. It is important to use an email address you check frequently as this is where they will send information about your proposal 8. Once your account is set up, you can always log-in by going to the DonorsChoose homepage, clicking “My Account” at the top right, and then signing in III. Writing a Proposal When you log in there will be a lot of information on your home page including methods for sharing your proposals (websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). You can also upload pictures of yourself, your students, or your classroom on this page. You should see your personal information and your school information as well. Below that is a box with the heading “My Points and Benefits.” In DonorsChoose you begin with a base point value. You “pay” points to submit proposals. Proposals that are more expensive are more money. You receive points by confirming your proposals quickly when you have funding, sending quality feedback packages, and if your feedback package arrives on time. You may lose points as well if you do not confirm funding within the set time or your feedback package arrives late to DonorsChoose. To write a proposal, first identify what materials or resources you need. Then, go to your homepage and in the box labeled “Create a Project”, click the green button “create a project.” Step 1: Welcome On the project homepage there are a ton of resources to assist you in creating your proposal. There are video guides, written guides, FAQs, help sheets, etc. On the left side of the page in a dark blue box are the steps to creating a proposal from start to finish. This will help guide you through the process. Once you are ready to write your proposal, click the green button “Get Started.” For this sample proposal we will walk through, I have decided I need four sets of Lakeshore Learning’s magnetic letters for my ABC center. The box of letters is item JJ- 518 and each box costs $39.95 each. Step 2: Choose Project Type The top of this page tells me how many points I have to spend. For each project I need to choose one of these four areas: Materials purchased through eSchoolMall (1-4 points based on cost of project) Special request for materials not available through eSchoolMall (6 points) Class trip (6 points) Class visitor (6 points) Since my materials are available through eSchoolMall (we will discuss eSchoolMall in Step 4), I will select the first option. Then click “Save and Create Title.” Step 3: Create Title Here is where I select a title for my project. I want it to be catchy and informative. The title is what is going to get donors to click on my project. The title I selected is “Learning to Read is Magnetic!” I will then type it in the title box. From this point forward there will always be an orange box at the bottom left that says “Save Draft.” If I am interrupted or need to stop, I can always save my draft and complete it at a later time. Now click “Save and Go Shopping.” Step 4: Go Shopping eSchoolMall is DonorsChoose’s way of helping you select the correct items for your project. At eSchoolMall, you can order directly from: A Teacher’s School Supply Store ABC School Supply Abilitations Barnes and Noble Bets Buy Blink Art Materials Carolina Biological CDW Childcraft Frey Scientific Kaplan Early Learning Lakeshore Learning Nasco Quill Sax Arts & Crafts School Specialty Sportime Woodwind & Brasswind You can also order from catalogs from the following vendors: AKJ Books Cannon Sports Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Lab Safety Supply Sargent Welch Time for Kids Weekly Reader Click on “Go shopping at eSchoolMall.” Read the information from DonorsChoose about making sure you select the correct items for your proposal. When you click on the vendor at eSchoolMall it often looks like you are at that vendor’s website. You will select your items and check-out like you would if you were paying. Instead of asking you for payment or shipping information, the items will be automatically linked to your proposal. Since my items are from Lakeshore Learning, I will select the bubble next to Lakeshore Learning and then scroll to the bottom of the page and click the button “Go To Website.” At the Lakeshore Learning site I will select my magnetic letter boxes. After the items are added to my cart, I will select the orange box “place order.”. You will return to the eSchoolMall website. Then click “view cart.” You will see the items you just selected. Check the item, number ordered, price, etc. You can continue shopping from this point or check-out if you are through. If you have thoroughly checked your cart, then click “Complete order and submit to DonorsChoose.” The page will close and you will be back at the DonorsChoose site with the items you ordered displayed on the page. You will note additional charges now appear such as shipping, tax, labor, etc. This is your last chance to check your items before you attach them to your proposal. If it is correct, click “Save and Summarize Cart.” Step 5: Summarize Cart The first thing you need to do is summarize what you purchased and why it is needed by your students. A sentence might be “My students need sets of magnetic letters to practice creating, spelling, writing, and learning new and important words.” From this point forward remember to check your spelling for each section before you move on. Once you have your sentence, click “Save and Tell Your Story.” Step 6: Tell Your Story This is your chance to provide the background about your students, school, and situation. These paragraphs allow you to provide a context for potential donors to help them feel they are supporting a worthy cause. The first part allows you to discuss the challenges you may be facing, for example: Magnetic letters are a key part of learning for children. Many of us probably remember playing with magnetic letters on our refrigerator, spelling “mom” or “cat” to our parents delight. Magnetic letters allow children to literally get their hands on reading. Many of my students have never had the chance to have hands-on learning before and I would like to give them these key early childhood experiences. The second part allows you to discuss your students, for example: My class is composed of 24 of the most wonderful and eager to learn children you will ever meet. Our school is in a mid-sized urban community. Over 75% of our students received free or reduced price lunches. Many of my kindergartners did not have the opportunity to attend preschool before entering Kindergarten this year. This often means they are behind academically, socially, and even sometimes developmentally. Although some might look at that as a challenge, everyday is a new opportunity for my students and I. We have the chance to make tons of growth this year and leave Kindergarten as first graders who are ready to learn. The third part allows you to give your donors an overview of the resources you are requesting. One of the most important parts of Kindergarten is developing a strong literacy foundation that will anchor students as they move through the grades. A large percent of Kindergarten is spent learning about letters and words and how they work in our language. One of the ways students practice this knowledge is in centers or during word work. During these activities students are sorting letters by name and sound, building new words, segmenting and blending sounds, and reading or writing the words they have made. We practice using the magnetic letters on tables, cookie sheets, magnetic white boards, easels, file cabinets, and suddenly any space is a learning space. The final part is your last effort to “win over” donors. This is the last thing they will read on your page so you want to hook them with you statement, for example: Thank you so much for taking the time to read my proposal and considering supporting my students. Learning to read is one of the most important things students will learn to do in school. In Kindergarten, it is my job to build the literacy foundation that students will build on for the rest of their lives. Once you have spell checked your document, click “Save and Provide Project Details.” Step 7: Provide Project Details On this page, answer the information to the best of your understanding. Click “Save and Quantify Impact.” Step 8: Quantify Impact On this page, answer the information too the best of your knowledge. Click “Save and Select Expiration Date.” Step 9: Select Expiration Date On this page you can decide to either set an expiration date (if there is an end to when your project can be funded) or choose to keep your project listed for as long as possible. If you are ready for the proposal to be approved by DonorsChoose click “Save and Confirm Project.” Step 10: Confirm This step allows you to confirm your proposal and send it to DonorsChoose for approval and processing. In this step you can also choose to save the final project as a draft for future submission. Once your proposal has been read by a DonorsChoose representative you will receive an email letting you know it is either posted online or they need additional information from you. Once your proposal is funded, make sure to confirm the funding quickly and set a date for your thank-you/feedback package that you are sure to make. Donors Choose is a wonderful way to support your students. Beware that it is also addictive – one you start having things funded it is hard to stop!