Future of Learning

Strapped schools turn to online fundraising sites for support

This weekend I was reminded again of how much digital tools have changed fundraising for schools. The ping came to me on social media, so bonus points for a double-dose of technology.

A school leader I met nearly five years ago, Principal Salome Thomas-EL, sent me a note on Twitter. The charter school he leads has an award-winning chess team. They also happen to be in a low-income neighborhood, so the school raises the money to send them to competitions. These days, they use a website to gather donations.

Not that long ago, fundraising for school trips required paper checks, envelopes stuffed with cash and an army of parent volunteers.

These days, a website can reach a wider audience more efficiently. These online tools for fund-raising have streamlined the process for soliciting private donations to pay for materials and activities that are not supported by many public school budgets.

One of the most prominent examples of this innovation is DonorsChoose.org. Earlier this month, the founder of that website, Charles Best, spoke at SXSWedu in Austin, Texas. He mentioned another benefit: It allows companies to find a market for new products without enduring the byzantine process of securing a full-fledged contract to sell to the school. If you want to learn more about which projects earned funding through DonorsChoose.org, you’re in luck. They release data to the public, which allows people to track trends.

As always, there’s no shortage of news this week about how digital tools are transforming teaching and learning. For more about effective placement of Wi-Fi routers, tech purchasing dilemmas and other developments, follow my Blended Learning Newsletter.

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Nichole Dobo

Nichole Dobo is the senior engagement editor and a writer. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic's online edition, Mind/Shift,… See Archive

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