About DonorsChoose.org

DonorsChoose.org, an award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, provides an easy way for everyday people to make a difference in public schools. Teachers across the U.S. post ideas for classroom projects on our website. The projects range from basic supplies like pencils and paper, to microscopes and books, to things as specific as checks-and-balance workbooks, personal finance videos designed for kids, and calculators to use in understanding interest rates. Then, individuals find projects by areas of interest (like financial literacy!), and choose to fund the projects they find most compelling. Our donors receive a thank-you package consisting of: student photographs and notes, a teacher impact letter, and an expenditure report showing that their gift was spent as directed.

The problem
Each year, K-8 teachers spend more than a billion dollars of their own money on classroom materials. On average, teachers spend $520 out of pocket (new teachers spend $720) – numbers that are even higher in our poorer urban communities. Studies show that 40% of teachers report they don't have enough books for all of their students. More than half of all teachers say that their students are exposed to incorrect information in outdated textbooks. Teachers, even those in programs such as Teach For America, are having to find ways to raise money, pay out of pocket for supplies, or go without critical learning materials in the classroom.

Our solution: What makes us unique
The mission of DonorsChoose.org is to improve public education by engaging citizens in an online marketplace: Teachers describe what their students need, and citizen philanthropists fund specific student projects. We envision a nation in which students in every community have the resources they need to learn. The core of our unique solution is:

  • Meaningful choice: Whether interested in pre-K literacy or science field trips, donors can select the specific project that they feel will have the biggest impact.
  • Full accountability: DonorsChoose.org screens each project before posting it online, purchases the materials for the teacher, and compiles a vivid thank-you package for the donors. Contributors can choose the project they want to fund, see the impact of their donation, and know that their dollars were spent as designated.

Through our model, DonorsChoose.org offers an easy way for every day people to support public education. Of our donor base, 70% reported that this was their first-ever donation to public schools. Additionally, 60% of donors reported that their DonorsChoose.org experience increased their interest in the state of public schools today.

Success to date
DonorsChoose.org was pioneered by a Bronx high school teacher, Charles Best, in 2000. In our first eight years of operation, DonorsChoose.org has channeled more than $25 million in resources to more than 1.5 million students. More than 80% of the resources we delivered are reusable for future classes.

Fools for DonorsChoose.org
Through Foolanthropy, Motley Fool members can directly support financial literacy by funding specific projects. The Motley Fool has also committed $10,000, in addition to donor contributions, for any financial literacy project proposal. DonorsChoose.org has been highlighted as "the future of philanthropy" by media ranging from The New York Times andThe Oprah Winfrey Show to the Today Show and CNN Newsnight.

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Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (8)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2008, at 7:55 PM, 782gear wrote:

    Our family selected Donors Choose as our charity last year. We funded a modest 5th and 6th grade project in a Southern West Virginia elementary school in April. The project consisted of providing felt tip pen writing boards for a class of about 30 students. The teacher used the boards to engage the students in spelling, math, and art. A few weeks back we received a report on the project from the teacher and hand written "thank you" notes from each of the students, along with pictures of the class using the boards. We couldn't have more pleased with our project. The outlay on our part was modest, a line item accounting for funds was provided by Donors Choose, and the final report by the teacher and class sealed the deal with us. We are sold on the idea of tens of thousands of citizens each providing hundreds of dollars to the teachers. It is a wonderful idea, fully thought out to provide funds for teachers and to provide accounting to donors. In our case 85% of the funds were used for materials and 15% for overhead. Best Regards, Gear

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2010, at 4:25 AM, LouFr wrote:

    This charity is not what it seems. Check out the money these fatcats pay themselves: http://www.donorschoose.org/docs/DonorsChoose.org-FY-2010-Fo...

    CFO: $150,000

    COO: $135,000

    CTO: $135,000

    VP1: $125,000

    VP2: $125,000

    VP3: $110,000

    Charity Navigator says that the founder of DonorsChoose.org pays himself $160,000. They hide their massive salaries under "processing and advocacy of classroom projects" and don't show them as "overhead".

    Their pie chart (http://www.donorschoose.org/about/finance.html) looks like they have very low overhead because they lump their hugely inflated salaries together in blue with the money that actually goes to the intended recipients.

    I can't recommend this charity.

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