First of all, you create a profile and create your first project. The interface of the website is super user friendly and walks you through all the steps. One of the first things you do is go shopping online! You can shop at any of the stores listed here! (There are also exceptions to this, like projects for field trips, guest visitors, or outside venders, but this requires more points earned on the site...which can only be done through having other successful projects). Some of my favorites are Lakeshore Learning and Nasco (for hands-on learning materials), Quill (for classroom/office supplies), and Best Buy (for technology).
Next, your write up why you need these resources for your classroom. You explain your group of students, discuss the challenges they are faced with, what resources you want, and why you need them.
Next you provide a couple more details and submit your project. Once submitted, you will have to wait a couple days before your project is posted on the site. Once it is posted, it is open to the public to look at. I have had many projects funded by complete strangers! I also, occasionally, send out emails or post on Facebook for friends and family to take a look at my project.
Thank you process: Once your project is funded, you will be required to send a quick thank you note (via online) and verify that you still need the resources. After your resources arrive and you have had a chance to use them, you are required to submit a more detailed thank you note (posted online), student thank you notes (mailed...postage paid for by donorschoose), and pictures (posted online) of the materials being used by the students. You will need to get photo releases signed by parents before posting pictures online (donorschoose has these available on their site).
*Keep your project short and concise. There is a minimum number of characters you must include, but do not go into lengthy details in your projects. People are more likely to donate if they can read your project quickly and still get a clear picture of what is going on.
*Keep your projects cheap. I think it is better to write multiple projects that cost $200-400 each, then 1 project for $1500. Remember, you only have limited time for your project to get funded before it expires... and wouldn't you rather get a few things for your classroom, instead of nothing!
Once you get used to writing these projects, you can finish them pretty quickly. Sometimes, the part that takes me the longest amount of time is the shopping! For instance, I wrote a project earlier this week and it only took me about 15 minutes from start to finish! As of last week, I have had over 50 projects funded. To get you excited and motivated to write a project, I thought I would share with you some of my the materials I have had funded! I think the list below shows how many different types of things you can get through donorschoose. All of which enhance your students' education and make your life as a teacher a little easier!
-Pre-made Reading Centers
-Pre-made File Folders
-Pre-made Sorting tasks
-Markers, pencils, crayons, pens
-Folders, binders, and notebooks
-Plastic Storage bins
-A double decker bus tour of the city (SO excited for this...going this spring!)
-Trip to Pump it Up (a place with inflatables and bouncy houses)
-Basketball uniforms for Special Olympics