|Headquarters||New York, NY|
|Key people||Charles Best, Founder|
DonorsChoose.org is a United States–based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects. Founded in 2000 by former public school teacher Charles Best, DonorsChoose.org was among the first civic crowdfunding platforms of its kind. The organization has been given Charity Navigator’s highest rating every year since 2005.
DonorsChoose.org was founded in 2000 by Charles Best, a social studies teacher at Wings Academy in the Bronx. Charles and his colleagues often spent their own money on school supplies for their students, and discussed materials they wished they could afford in the teachers’ lunchroom. Charles envisioned a platform for individuals to connect directly with classrooms in need, providing materials requested by teachers. With the help of his students, he built the first version of the site in his classroom and invited colleagues to post material requests. Charles anonymously funded the first 10 project requests to demonstrate the effectiveness of the site.
In 2003, the Oprah Winfrey Show featured Charles Best in a segment on Innovative Teachers, which aired on June 20. Traffic generated from the show crashed the site, but viewers donated $250,000 to classroom projects. The sustained exposure from the Oprah Winfrey Show allowed DonorsChoose.org to expand from the New York City region to key metropolitan areas across the country.
In 2006, following the destruction of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the site opened to public school teachers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. In 2007, the site opened to every public school in the United States.
As of December 2013, donors have contributed over $200 million to fund more than 400,000 classroom projects posted on the site, reaching 10 million students in public schools across the United States. Real-time impact statistics are available on the DonorsChoose.org impact page  and open-source classroom data is offered to developers.
DonorsChoose.org enables teachers to request materials and resources for their classrooms and makes these project requests available to individual donors through its website. Donors can give $1 or more to projects that interest them, which are searchable by school name, teacher name, location, school subject, material, and keywords. DonorsChoose.org then purchases necessary supplies and ships them directly to the schools. Every project contains a line-item budget and a description of the project. All donors receive photographs of the project taking place in the classroom and a letter from the teacher. Donors who contribute $50 or more to a project also receive hand-written thank-you notes from students.
The operations of DonorsChoose.org are 100% supported by an optional 15% donation to overhead, teacher outreach, maintenance and build-out of the DonorsChoose.org website. 76% of individual donors opt to include this donation.
DonorsChoose.org is open to all public and public charter schools in the United States, as well as GED and Pre-K programs run by public school systems.
All “front line educators” are eligible to create accounts on the site and submit project requests. This includes teachers, librarians, guidance counselors, school nurses and full-time teachers who also act as coaches - all must work directly with students for 75% or more of their time. Those who are not eligible include principals, administrators, PTA members, teachers' assistants, student teachers, substitutes, part-time teachers, after-school teachers, or staff developers.
It was mentioned in an interview with Craig Newmark on the October 18, 2007, episode of the Colbert Report, and again on March 19, 2008, September 27, 2011, and December 13, 2012, as a recipient of host Stephen Colbert's Super PAC Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.
In May 2013, DonorsChoose.org mobilized donations in support of educators in Moore, Oklahoma, whose schools were devastated by an EF5 Tornado. CBS featured DonorsChoose.org as a trusted organization assisting the relief effort in Oklahoma.
Fast Company featured DonorsChoose.org as one of its Most Innovative Companies in 2011. DonorsChoose.org was the first charity to be given this distinction. In February 2014, DonorsChoose.org was listed in the top 10 Most Innovative Companies, and the organization was featured as February’s cover story.
- DonorsChoose.org Financial Statements and Supplementary Information, June 30 2013 and 2012
- DonorsChoose.org: Careers
- "Kickstarting Utopia: Crowdfunding lets you route around the Man" Greg Beato, Reason.com. February, 2014.
- Charity Navigator Rating - DonorsChoose.org
- DonorsChoose.org: Our Story
- IMDB: The Oprah Winfrey Show. Episode List: 2003
- DonorsChoose.org: Our Story
- DonorsChoose.org: Impact
- DonorsChoose.org Open Datasets Overview
- DonorsChoose.org: How it Works
- DonorsChoose.org: Impact
- DonorsChoose.org: What kinds of schools does DonorsChoose.org serve?
- DonorsChoose.org: Am I eligible to set up an account and submit a project?
- "Doonesbury", September 9, 2007
- "Colbert Report", October 18, 2007
- "Colbert Report", March 19, 2008
- "Colbert Report", December 13, 2012
- "DonorsChoose's Charles Best: Pioneering Citizen Philanthropy" Forbes, Sept. 17, 2012
- "How to Help Those Hit by the Oklahoma Tornado" CBS News, May 23, 2013
- "Most Innovative Companies 2011", Fast Company, Nov. 30, 2011
- “Beyond School Supplies: How Donorschoose Is Crowdsourcing Real Education Reform” Fast Company, February 2014
- DonorsChoose.org website
- CharityNavigator analysis of DonorsChoose.org
- Business Week (2005). "School Aid: It Takes A Web Site", 26 September 2005
- Lewin, Tamar: The New York Times (2005). "Building Better Schools, One Glue Stick at a Time." 14 November, 2005.
- Steel, Emily: Wall Street Journal (2006). "Novel Program Blends Charity And Marketing." 20 December, 2006.
- Schoolkids Get What Donors Choose
- GrayMatter, a student-oriented nonprofit modeled after DonorsChoose