Financial Help Help For Teachers: How to Raise Money for Classroom Needs

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| 7 min read Financial Assistance

It’ll be a great day when our schools have all the money they need. But teachers today are too often left to bridge the funding gap on their own. A study by the US Department of Education found that 94% teachers at public schools dip into their own paychecks to buy classroom supplies when funding from school districts falls short. And now with teachers trying to balance education and safety in the face of the coronavirus, many more costs have fallen to them. 

This is where grants, scholarships, and crowdfunding can provide financial help for teachers. This guide explains the pros and cons of each of these resources for teaching and highlights the best ways teachers can make a meaningful difference without reaching into their own pockets.

Help teachers today

How to help teachers during COVID-19

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend daily life, teachers and students alike are struggling to adapt to a new normal. The financial burden of ensuring students stay safe with personal protective equipment (PPE) has often fallen to teachers—on top of the school supplies they already have to pay for. Many teachers are also paying for air purifiers and outdoor classroom construction costs in order to keep their students safe. 

Here’s what you can do to support teachers during COVID-19:

  • Ask your local schools and teachers what supplies they’re most in need of for virtual learning or in-class learning, and find out how you can help.
  • Donate to fundraisers for back-to-school supplies for teachers.
  • Share GoFundMe’s K-12 Classrooms General Fund with your social networks so they can donate, or make a contribution yourself. 

Start fundraising for remote learning costs.

1. Grants for teachers

Grants allow teachers to improve their classrooms, offer enrichment programs, and more. From science supplies to musical instruments, grants can help teachers provide necessary school supplies. Grants can also allow teachers to pursue professional development opportunities to become a better educator. While much of grant funding comes from the federal government, other organizations like nonprofits, private foundations, and corporations can offer grants.

Pros

  • Grants typically provide large sums of money.
  • If you’re awarded a grant and the award meets all your needs, you could devote hours you would normally spend on fundraising in your classroom instead.
  • If your school or classroom has a clear need, you could be in a strong position to win grants, which are usually based on need.

Cons

  • You may have to jump through administrative hoops to prove your need for the funds.
  • Grants can be competitive, making it difficult to know if you’ll be able to secure funding.
  • You usually don’t have the freedom to spend grant money on any school needs. Most grants have strict spending guidelines.
  • The funding disbursement dates may or may not line up with your program needs.

Look for specific education grants at the NEA Foundation, Grant Watch, and Get Ed Funding.

2. Scholarships for teachers

Scholarships can provide resources for teachers, classrooms, and students based on achievement and merit. It’s usually a bit easier to apply for scholarships than grants.

Pros

  • Scholarships come with a feeling of validation since they’re won on merit.
  • Applying for scholarships can require much less paperwork than applying for grants.
  • Scholarships can revolutionize a classroom or school. Some scholarships award large sums of money for advanced education and training.

Cons

  • Applying for scholarships can take a good deal of time.
  • Almost all scholarships are highly competitive. To win one, you must stand out from a large pool of applicants.
  • Deadlines and the disbursement of funds may not align with your needs.

Start your search for classroom scholarships at Great Value Colleges, Fastweb.com, and Teacher.org.

3. Crowdfunding for teachers

Crowdfunding has become a popular alternative to grants and scholarships in recent years and helps teachers find classroom funding quickly. Not only does classroom fundraising bypass the red tape associated with grants and scholarships, but it allows teachers to truly invest in their students’ education exactly how they want. Here are some other benefits:

Pros

  • There are no eligibility requirements or deadlines. Start raising funds within minutes and withdraw your money whenever you’re ready.
  • Involving students in the fundraising process encourages team building and friendly competition. With our team fundraising feature, you can all raise funds together and track who brings in the most donations.
  • Our blog provides articles on classroom fundraising tips and fundraising ideas for schools to raise money fast.
  • Your community can rally around your cause by donating and sharing your fundraiser on social media.

Cons

  • Setting up, launching, and updating a fundraiser can seem intimidating at first. However, other teachers and administrators can share the workload. Students can also take on tasks.
  • Asking for donations and sharing your fundraiser far and wide might seem daunting at first.

Create the ultimate teacher wish list

An article by Time reported that some districts struggle to provide teachers with basic items like garbage bags and disinfectant sprays. Creating a teacher wish list gives you the freedom to think outside the box and dream beyond the bare minimum. These steps will help you create your own teacher wish list:

1. Start your lesson plans early

Roughly planning out the year’s themes will help determine what activities and field trips are already in store, and what supplementary activities you’d like to make time for.

2. Take inventory

Make a list of the classroom supplies you already have. Knowing what’s already covered by your department will help you easily figure out what items you’ll have to cover on your own.

3. Don’t be afraid to think big

Perhaps you’d like your language arts class to perform their own original play to complement their unit on Shakespeare. Or maybe your science class would benefit from some hands-on learning at the science museum. Whether it’s special activities, iPads, or interactive furniture, add these items to your teacher wish list.

4. Find the gaps in the budget

Take a good look at the department budget. When you know exactly how much money you have for the year, you’ll be able to easily determine what activities and supplies aren’t covered. Once you know how much extra money you’ll need, you’ll be ready to run a successful school supply drive.

Teachers who used GoFundMe for classroom fundraising

When their budgets fell short, these teachers took action and used GoFundMe to give their students more:

Classroom Makeover

Inspired by the teachers who made a difference in his life, Malachi had big dreams for his teaching career. He was preparing to teach at-risk second graders and wanted them to have every advantage in the classroom, including books, supplies, and cheerful decorations. Thanks to friends and family, he raised $1,700 with his fundraiser.

5th Grade Trip to IslandWood

The fifth-grade students of Highland Park Elementary School always look forward to their annual field trip to IslandWood, a school in the woods off the coast of Seattle. The four-day trip gives students a dose of adventure and experiential learning opportunities—but most students at low-income schools can’t afford to go. Their teacher Connie set up a fundraiser on GoFundMe and raised over $7,000 to ensure that everyone would be included.

Get financial help today

With crowdfunding, getting aid for teachers has never been easier for teachers. By fundraising for your classroom, you can tap into the social networks of parents, students, and community members to get the support and resources you and your classroom need. Launch a fundraiser for your students and start education fundraising today.

Start a classroom fundraiser

Written by Jenna Davis

Asking for help is never easy, but it's my hope that our resources make it a bit easier and empower individuals and organizations to reach their fundraising goals. I believe we can create a better future through generosity and compassion—all it takes is a little bit of support from each of us.