The Bottom Line
Education and its funding (or lack of funding) is a hot button issue. It's all about our children and grandchildren, and it is a hard heart indeed that is not moved to take some action.
DonorsChoose.org is on the cutting edge of educational charity. It brilliantly avoids the red tape and endless paperwork of traditional grant making and puts donors in the driver's seat.
DonorsChoose takes a page from the microfinance arena, and cleverly applies it to American education, schools, teachers, and students.
- Friendly, inviting, appealing design and photos.
- Easy to understand how to donate and what happens to contribution.
- A link to "How it Works" should be on the home page.
- DonorsChoose matches teacher proposals with donors.
- Similar to microfinance sites.
- Multiple ways to give.
Guide Review - DonorsChoose Website Review
Part of the democratization of philanthropy, where donors can directly choose and benefit individual recipients, DonorsChoose has been immensely successfully. Donors find it easy and appealing.
The homepage is similar to a catalog, with a featured project right there and a link to more. This invites the potential donor to browse freely before choosing a project to help fund.
There are also a number of ways to donate: you can use a gift card, set up a "give-back birthday" (a clever idea), and special projects such as the "Support Our Troops," which helps schools that serve children of members of the armed forces.
I love the testimonials from actual donors in the sidebar. Also, once I registered with the site, I see projects from my own state. How cool is that?
DonorsChoose has a "How It Works" link on its "About" page. It says "Teachers ask, You choose, Students learn." The ensuing explanation lays out the process and gives examples of teacher proposals and amounts asked for. DonorsChoose explains the process of how proposals are chosen, and how it ensures that the funds are spent according to the proposal; how the donor is thanked; and how the donation is processed.
The way the charity is funded is also part of this explanation. There is a "fulfillment fee" to fund the organization, and that fee is added to the donation. You don't have to look for this information. It is right there and the donor can choose to accept it or not. This is transparency at its best.
My only criticism of the website is that I would like to see a link to "how it works" directly from the homepage. I had to search a bit to find it. Of course, the donate button is on each project, so that is easy to find and use.
DonorsChoose.org is a great example of what more nonprofits should do, and can do: explain themselves this directly and simply.