Choosing a project to guide a curriculum can turn out to be a pricey endeavor. When my class decided they wanted to create a butterfly garden school habitat with a focus on native plants, I quickly started thinking about all of the money that would need to be spent to make the project a reality. Like many teachers, I do spend (a lot) of my own money on my class, but this was a class project, not a “me” project, and I knew that the children would need to take ownership of the fundraising aspect of the garden in addition to all other aspects of the garden. There are two ways we approached the situation: the old-fashioned way (sending out letters) and the modern way (crowdsourcing).
First, we wrote letters. We tied in our Common Core writing standards in which we wrote an opinion letter. We needed to convince the reader of the letter that they should help us. We sent out letters to local nurseries, large businesses (Lowe’s, Home Depot, our local water district), botanic gardens, community organizations, and other experts in the field of gardening (Master Gardeners, botanists, landscape architects, etc.). We solicited help in the form time, materials, or money. We used our class Google Drive and Gmail account to keep track of the letters and responses. We have had positive responses from about half of our letters and no response from the other half.
Secondly, we created a DonorsChoose project to try to raise the funds that would cover the building of a brick pathway through the garden. There are many other paths to choose if you are not a fan of DonorsChoose. Crowdsourcing is becoming a very popular platform for raising money, and there are many websites that can help with the endeavor. We chose DonorsChoose for its ease in syncing with my Facebook account (and thus reaching my extended family and friends), for its name which is well-known, and because I had previously funded projects with DonorsChoose. Some of the problems that can arise with DonorsChoose, though, are that they stick on added donations that you have to be savvy about deterring, and their timelines can be very strict. They work on a point system, as well, so you can be blocked from a project if you don’t have enough points.
As of now, we have raised about $1500 toward the building of our garden (and I have put some of my own money into it). We are currently working on a school fundraiser (selling candy grams) to raise some extra cash to use as needed to keep the garden going. The students are also working on a website in which donations through PayPal can also be accepted. So far, we are very happy with the success of our fundraising endeavors. What strategies have you used to raise money for you projects? I’d love to hear about your project!