A Worthy Cause that Lets You See the Impact of Your Donation

Elizabeth Dunn is an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. At age twenty-six, she was featured as one of the “rising stars” across all of academia by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

teaching_300Instead of sending your money into a corporate abyss, Donorschoose.org lets you witness exactly how your gift makes a difference. Founded by former public school teacher Charles Best, it aids schools in need. You choose specifically what you want to donate to the school, or even class, of your choice, and teachers follow up with you afterward, offering you a uniquely satisying, feel-good experience.

Like many public school teachers, Charles found himself buying supplies for the students in his underfunded classroom. One day he happened to mention his shopping trips to a (wealthier) friend, who offered to buy some supplies for Charles’s class. Creating links between a specific donor and a specific classroom enables an emotional connection to emerge from what would otherwise be a cold financial transaction.

Today, the website Charles created gives potential donors enormous flexibility and agency in choosing which classroom to fund. You can search for a school in your home state, even search for a classroom in your old school, bringing the donation closer to home. Or you can adopt a different approach, giving based on your own interests (Mark Twain or microscopes). Or you can take still another approach, looking for the neediest classrooms regardless of the location of the school or the specific project posted by the teacher. Not only does DonorsChoose.org allow donors to make it a choice by investing in a specific group of students in a specific classroom, the site also creates the tangible, emotional connection often missing from the donation experience. And the connection doesn’t end there. Teachers send thank-you notes to donors, and students themselves often send thank-you notes. “When we deliver the initial thank-you note to the donor, our first ask is not for money. Instead, we ask the donor to write back to the classroom, and we measure success in the volume of two-way correspondence that we see between donors and classrooms,” Charles says.

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Cary Elwes’ Crush on Costar Robin Wright in The Princess Bride

Cary Elwes is a celebrated English actor who starred in The Princess Bride before moving on to roles in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Glory, Days of Thunder, Twister, and Saw, among many other acclaimed performances. He will always be indebted to The Princess Bride, he says, for changing his life and giving him a career that has spanned decades. He lives in Hollywood, California, with his family. Find out more about Cary Elwes on Twitter @Cary_Elwes.

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Like many public school teachers, Charles found himself buying supplies for the students in his underfunded classroom. One day he happened to mention his shopping trips to a (wealthier) friend, who offered to buy some supplies for Charles’s class. Creating links between a specific donor and a specific classroom enables an emotional connection to emerge from what would otherwise be a cold financial transaction.

Today, the website Charles created gives potential donors enormous flexibility and agency in choosing which classroom to fund. You can search for a school in your home state, even search for a classroom in your old school, bringing the donation closer to home. Or you can adopt a different approach, giving based on your own interests (Mark Twain or microscopes). Or you can take still another approach, looking for the neediest classrooms regardless of the location of the school or the specific project posted by the teacher. Not only does DonorsChoose.org allow donors to make it a choice by investing in a specific group of students in a specific classroom, the site also creates the tangible, emotional connection often missing from the donation experience. And the connection doesn’t end there. Teachers send thank-you notes to donors, and students themselves often send thank-you notes. “When we deliver the initial thank-you note to the donor, our first ask is not for money. Instead, we ask the donor to write back to the classroom, and we measure success in the volume of two-way correspondence that we see between donors and classrooms,” Charles says.
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