Crowdfunding for Teachers: Raise Funds for Your Classroom
The beginning of the school year is an exciting time: There are fresh faces in the classroom, opportunities to improve lesson plans, and creative ways to revamp learning spaces. But if you’re like the vast majority of teachers in the US, the beginning of the school year can also mean stress about resources and staying within the given budget.
A study by the US Department of Education found that 94% of public school teachers dip into their own paychecks to buy classroom supplies when their school districts can’t provide necessary funding. When basic classroom supplies are tough to come by, enrichment activities and advanced learning tools can be completely out of reach for many teachers.
This guide explains why crowdfunding for teachers can make an incredible difference in the lives of students, teachers, and entire communities.
Why crowdfund for classroom expenses?
When school budgets are tight, crowdfunding can truly help offset costs. Here’s a look at the main benefits of launching an online fundraiser to pay for classroom expenses:
Relief from financial burdens
Raising funds online can help students get what they need while providing financial help for teachers and parents.
More freedom in teaching
Crowdfunding allows teachers to truly invest in their students’ education exactly how they want, regardless of budget limitations.
Simple to set up and share
GoFundMe makes crowdfunding easy. Setting up a fundraiser takes just a few minutes, and we offer multiple ways to share your fundraiser with your network.
No platform fee
Our fundraising model means that more of your donations can benefit your students.
A learning opportunity
Involving your students in the fundraising process can be an opportunity for team building and friendly competition. With our team fundraising feature, you and your students can raise funds together and track who brings in the most donations.
Create the ultimate teacher wish list
An article by Time reported that some school 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. Here are the steps to create your own teacher wish list.
1. Start your lesson plans early
Take some time to lay out your lesson plans as early as possible. Roughly planning out the year’s themes will help determine what activities and field trips have already been dictated by the department, and what supplementary activities you’d like to make time for.
2. Take inventory
Make a list of what classroom supplies you already have. Some departments have a shared supply closet, while others dole out supplies per classroom. Knowing what basic supplies are already covered will give you a general idea of how much you’ll have to spend on extracurricular activities.
3. Find the gaps in the budget
Now that you know what classroom supplies are already accounted for, take a good look at the budget laid out by the department. When you know exactly how much money you have for the year, you’ll be able to easily draft your own budget for what activities still need funding.
4. Dream beyond the necessities
You’ve planned, budgeted, and crunched numbers—the hard work is over! Now you can make a wish list of all the enrichment activities you’d like to plan, or the special classroom supplies you’ll need to take learning to the next level, like iPads or flexible classroom furniture.
Perhaps you’d like your language arts class to write and 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 interactive science museum. Include all of this and more on your wish list, then work out how much extra funding you’ll need. Once you have that magic number, you can start your fundraiser.
Create your crowdfunding fundraiser
You may want your fundraiser to revolve around one specific activity or classroom need, like a class field trip or a digital chalkboard. Or you might opt to fundraise for numerous activities throughout the year. Whichever option you decide, these classroom fundraising tips will make sure you’re off to a good start.
Choose your fundraiser title and set your goal
Your fundraiser title should be relatively short, memorable, and explain exactly why you’re raising funds in a succinct way. “Fund Our Field Trip,” is too vague, but “Send Us to Washington D.C.” lets people know exactly why you need their help and will encourage more clicks to your fundraiser. For more help, read our blog post tips for creating your fundraiser title.
When it comes to your fundraiser goal, choose an amount that is attainable and realistic. You may want to take seven different field trips throughout the year, but it might be better to start fundraising for the first few to start. People are more willing to donate when they feel their contribution can make a noticeable difference.
Add a winning photo
Your photo will be the first thing to catch someone’s eye when they see your fundraiser on social media, so you’ll want to keep these tips in mind:
- Use a clear and compelling photo—avoid grainy images or school logos.
- Always get parents’ permission if you are using students in a photo.
- Add multiple photos throughout your story if possible. People are more drawn to fundraisers that have a strong visual element.
Find out more in our blog post how images can lead to fundraising success.
Write a descriptive story
Your story can either draw someone in or lose their attention. Crafting an engaging story that explains how your students will benefit from the funds is one of the most important parts of your fundraiser. Here are some tips to help:
- Include all the crucial information first, like who you are, why you’re raising funds, and why this cause means so much to you. Include any other details that will draw potential donors into your story in later paragraphs.
- Explain exactly how you’ll be using the funds, which will gain your donors’ trust. You can list the budget you created for added transparency.
- Don’t make your story too long, but ensure it’s at least 400 words, as the length of your fundraiser description can influence donations.
- Have your principal review your story and photos to ensure your fundraiser is compliant with school policies
Our comprehensive crowdfunding story guide offers more detailed tips on crafting a compelling story for your fundraiser.
How to promote your fundraiser
Sharing your fundraiser far and wide is crucial to its success, so it’s important to be strategic about how you do this. We have some ideas for the best ways to share your cause with your friends, family, coworkers, and everyone in between.
Reach out to your community
Your first donations will come directly from people you know, so it’s best to start by sharing your fundraiser with these people first and then slowly branch out from there. Start by asking two or three close friends or family members if they would willing to share your fundraiser with their network. Once you receive a few initial donations, other people who don’t personally know you will be more willing to open their wallets.
Take advantage of social media
Using social media to promote your fundraiser is an amazing but low-effort way to reach many people at once. And when people in your network share your fundraiser, this will naturally double and triple the number of people viewing your fundraiser. These are the top social media platforms to use when promoting your fundraiser:
If you don’t quite know how to promote your fundraiser on social media yet, our guide best practices for promoting your fundraiser online shares plenty of ideas.
Share your fundraiser offline
While sharing your fundraiser through Facebook and Instagram can be effective, there are also plenty of ways to share without social media and still get the word out. Here are just a few ways to share offline:
- Send personalized emails and include a link to your fundraiser.
- Send text messages with the fundraiser link.
- Print fundraiser flyers and post them around your community, or send them home with your students.
- Read our blog post on fundraising ideas for schools for more ideas.
Create a catchy hashtag
A catchy fundraiser hashtag can help your fundraiser reach more people. It can also allow people to find and share your fundraiser more easily on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
What to do if your fundraiser stalls
Even the best fundraisers can hit a donation lull—it’s all part of the fundraising cycle. The good news is that there are steps you can take to shorten the lull and keep donations coming in:
Team up with other teachers
Lean on your fellow teachers to help spread the word about your cause. Ask them to share the fundraiser on social media or post flyers on your behalf. Doing this might also cause a ripple effect at your school and encourage more teacher fundraising.
Involve your students
Ask your students to share the fundraiser link on their own social media profiles. If you have opted for a team fundraiser, you can create a contest and award prizes to the students who bring in the most donations.
Host a fundraising event
There are countless fundraising event ideas that provide the opportunity to connect with parents and other community members on a deeper level. Whether it’s a bake sale, car wash, or back to school supply drive, a fundraising event helps you advocate for your cause in a more personal way.
Post frequent updates
Fundraiser updates keep your supporters informed and serve as a reminder that you still need help reaching your goal. You can use updates to share new information, express gratitude, or celebrate fundraiser milestones. Our blog post how to write a fundraising update gives guidance if you aren’t sure how to get started.
Teachers who used crowdfunding to pay for classroom costs
When their budgets fell short, these teachers took action and used GoFundMe to give their students more:
The kindergarten students of this Los Angeles kindergarten learn about everything from yoga and sign language to cultural diversity, but their classroom and outdoor space desperately needed some work. Charisse launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to buy basic supplies, as well as revamp their classroom with some less common items, like a sand and water table and household plants. Their fundraiser raised nearly $7,000 in just one month.
The 5th grade students of Highland Park Elementary School look forward to their annual field trip to IslandWood, a school in the woods off the coast of Seattle. The four-day adventure gives students experiential learning opportunities outside of the regular classroom environment, but most students at the low-income school can’t afford the cost of the trip. Their teacher Connie set up their GoFundMe and raised over $7,000 to ensure that all 5th grade students would be able to take the exciting trip.
Find financial help for your classroom
Thousands of teachers across the country have turned to crowdfunding to help pay for classroom expenses and give their students more than just the bare minimum. Whether your classroom needs flexible furniture or simply a new coat of paint, GoFundMe can help. Sign up to create a classroom fundraiser today and begin making a bigger impact in the lives of your students.