It can be a challenge to raise money for your classroom. Let’s face it, teachers are not making the big bucks despite the amount of time and effort they put into their work. And while teachers usually receive an additional sum of money for purchasing classroom supplies, the $100 or so they get a year is hardly enough to compensate for the the thousands of papers, tissues, cleaning supplies, pencils, and books that a teacher needs for their students to succeed.
However, if you’re creative and willing, you can find ways to help bring in other sources of revenue to help raise money for your classroom and support your class endeavors. Below are a few programs that I have come across that can help you obtain the funding to build the classroom of your dreams.
1. Crowdfunding Campaigns
Crowdfunding sites are created for the purpose of their members to fund raise and donate to various campaign. One of the best crowdfunding sites for educators is DonorsChoose.org, which is a niche crowdfunding site created for educators to raise money for specific supplies in their classroom. DonorsChoose.org is unique because users can search for local campaigns and often local companies or generous donors will match your donation 1 for 1 meaning that your dollars is stretched further. Other great crowdfunding sites that can be used to increase the number of donations to your cause include Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Indiegogo, RocketHub, FundRazr, GoGetFunding, and crowdfunder.
2. Amazon Wishlists
You might have used Amazon Wishlists before, but did you know that you can make multiple wishlists on a single account. Here is an example of my Mr. McKinney’s Class Wishlist. Put a range of options for parents or friends of your class who want to contribute but don’t have the means to purchase something large. You can always leave larger items on the list as well because you never know how generous someone might be. You can also create school lists of supplies for your students to make back to school shopping an ease.
Blogging is easy and relatively cheap to do. As a teacher you have been gifted with 30 or so creative writers who will write frequently and willingly for you making it easy to generate new content. Through monetizing methods such as Google Adsense or various other referral programs including Amazon Associates, HostGator, Elegant Themes, and Google Apps, you can create multiple revenue streams for your classroom. The most important part to building a steady revenue stream is generating new and original content and because of the unique personality of each child, you are bound to have interesting content for your blog. People will be even more excited to read your blog when they know that all the money earned from the site will go right back to the children in the form of new books, technology, and other class supplies.
Along with your referral links on your blog, you can often include a Paypal Donation link. While crowdfunding sites and referral programs can be great for earning some extra cash for your class, those sites usually take a hefty cut of the money for themselves. Paypal donations, Google Wallet donations, and Apple Pay donations are some of your best options. There are certain transaction fees involved, but those fees are far less than the cut you would be losing through other services.
Along with blogging, YouTube can be another platform to generate money for your classroom. It may be a bit more difficult to generate revenue as you cannot include multiple ad campaigns, donation buttons, and referral links like you could with a blog, but the extra revenue generated from ads could be another nice way to earn money for your classroom. If you gain a fairly decent sized base of viewers too, you may be able to check with local stores to run small ad campaigns through your videos. They may be willing to offer a good amount of money for a small spotlight in your videos despite a smaller audience because they want to be seen supporting their community. Just make sure you receive explicit permission from parents before uploading any videos with their children in them.
6. Selling Lesson Plans
Most of you have most likely heard of TeachersPayTeachers, but there are multiple sites out there dedicated to selling lesson plans, worksheets, and other materials you would have created for your own class anyways. While you can make a good amount of money by purposely creating content for the site, if you simply take the time to look through materials you have created yourself, you might surprise yourself with the amount of things you created that other teachers would buy. One teacher even made over $1 Million from her sales on the site, which she then used to help pay for her daughter’s college tuition and to purchase a van for her quadriplegic brother (via NBCNews). You can check out other similar sites such as Teacher’s Notebook and TeachWise.
7. Online Tutoring
While many of the other fundraising endeavors require less time put in outside of school, tutoring can be a lucrative business, which will generate a nice secondary income if you gain enough clients. There are many middle and upper class families who want to provide the best education for their children so that they can be accepted by the some of the top colleges in country and they are willing to pay upwards of $60-100 for an hour of your time. While a lot of your tutoring gigs can help you save up extra money for your classroom, it can still be challenging to find clients. Luckily there are plenty of online tutoring sites that either allow you to arrange in person tutoring sessions such as Wyzant or allow tutoring via the internet such as italki.
8. Create Class Products
You may have some amazing untapped talent in your classroom, even in some of the lower elementary grades. A lot of your students may also be willing to donate their time and talents to creating original products for sale in an online marketplace or class store. Even if the end products are not quite the same as professional grade products, your students will still feel a sense of accomplishment seeing their products sold online. And while you may not have many anonymous buyers of your products, parents are often willing to contribute through creative fundraising means such as purchasing class t-shirts, baked goods, artwork, music, etc. If you don’t know how to or don’t want to take the time or money to set up your own customized online shop, consider creating a product shop using a vendor such as Zazzle, RedBubble, CafePress, Blurb, and CDBaby.
9. Microsoft Bing Rewards
What if you could earn up to $5 a month for your classroom simply by doing what you already do, doing an internet search? While, Google is an incredibly powerful search engine, Microsoft’s Bing acts as a good competitor. In addition to being a powerful search engine, Microsoft is willing to pay you to do about 10 searches a day. You never make much from your searches, but you were doing it already. Now ask your parents and students to create Bing rewards accounts and they can earn money as well. With Bing rewards credits you can purchase different gifts such as Amazon gift cards, Hulu Plus memberships, and Starbucks gift cards, but you can also choose to donate your credits to a school fund. According to Microsoft, “If about 60 parents participate in Bing Rewards for a month, they can earn enough credits for a Surface. About 125 parents participating for a year can earn enough credits for Surface devices for an entire classroom.”
10. Box Tops
Box Tops are another way to earn easy money for your classroom. Each Box Top is worth about $0.10 and can be used for most school related needs such as purchasing new books or going on a class field trip. Box Tops has also partnered with many large retail chains such as Staples, Walmart, and Expedia in order to provide you with more ways to earn money for your school while doing your regular shopping.
Education grants similar to crowdfunding campaigns are another excellent way to raise money for a specific project or other materials that your class needs. However, grants can often be more effective for raising large amounts of money because of the quick funding that different companies will give you. Rather than having to rely on marketing your crowdfunding page to ensure that it gains higher viewership and more contributions from anonymous donors, grants can help you get a quick lump sum of money if your project qualifies. Additionally, if you do not qualify for the grant requirements of one company, then you may still be eligible for another. Just remember that it’s important to make sure you start with your goal in mind when asking for money to purchase technology or other resources. Companies are more willing to fund your projects if they know how you will use your technology than when you simply state you want to get a bunch of tablets because you don’t have any for your classroom. Some grants to check out are Target Field Trip Grants, WalMart grants, Google.org Community Grants, and US Department of Education Grants.
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