If you’re in or on your way to Orlando, hopefully you’re having a great time! I’ve got the FOMO again this year. Whomp, whomp.
It’s crazy to believe that it’s almost back to school season again! This is actually around the time of summer where I would generally do a bit of head burying in the sand because DC goes late (this year their last day was June 17th), but also starts before Labor Day so it’s a pretty short summer.
Over the past few days, I feel like I’ve seen blog posts, IG feeds, and FB articles about teachers spending their own money on supplies. It’s one of the biggest bummers about teaching, right? I mean, no one is asking a surgeon to show up with his own scalpel. In any case, I wanted to give some quick tips on diffusing the cost of school supplies in your own classroom. First, if you say your receipts, you can deduct up to $250 on your taxes. It’s the Educator Expense Deduction, and while it doesn’t necessarily help in August it is nice to get some of that money back.
The real tip I want to share though is Donors Choose. Some of you may be familiar with Donors Choose; it’s an online charity where teachers can put together projects that people can fund. Sort of like Kickstarter or Gofundme, but specifically for teachers. Anyone that teaches in a public school can use Donors Choose (sorry private school, friends). While I was teaching, I posted multiple projects and all of my projects were funded. I’m sharing this with you now because one thing I did each summer was post a GIGANTIC back to school project; I would request markers, crayons, highlighters, pencils for days, erasers, primary lined notebooks, dry erase markers, plastic folders, post-it chart paper, chart markers, hand sanitizer, etc. Almost any material/supply that I could think of that I anticipated we would need, so if you’ve never done that before this is your year to try! And here are my three top Donors Choose Project tips.
- Use a catchy title! So many projects have titles that describe exactly what they want (Kindergarten rug needed), but I also tried to make my titles a little zingy so people would at least want to click and read more about it. For example, the first project I ever did on Donors Choose was for a class set of yoga mats. My project title was “Happy, Mad, Sad, Downward Dog”. When I created a project for iPad cases the title was “We’re rough! We’re tough! But our iPads aren’t!”. A catchy title draws in a potential donor.
- Try to keep the cost under $1,000. Even if it means splitting a project. I’ve found that it’s easier to fund projects under $1,000. Also, look for matching codes! Usually Donors Choose is pretty good about alerting you if your project is eligible, but sometimes companies will match any donation on certain types of projects or in certain areas. I think it was my first project that got matches from Cutie (the clementines) because they counted it as physical activity.
- Tell everyone about your project! When you post your DC project it’s not the time to be shy. I would always send a huge email out to my family and friends and remind them that even a $5 donation is helpful (especially if you have a matching project). You can also share on social media–Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Projects do have deadlines, so share frequently and often.
Alright, teachers. Relax. Enjoy your day. And good luck on the first Donors Choose project! xoxo, Rachel