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By GreatSchools Staff
Wish you could stretch existing parent donations further? Donation matching is a tried-and-true method. It's also one of the easiest ways for parents with corporate jobs to maximize their charitable impact. Since many large companies have programs in place to match employees' charitable donations, there's almost nothing to it. All that's required is a little bit of paperwork and a signature from HR.
Though most parents won't be switching companies or careers solely for better matching gifts, it's worth noting that one of the most generous donation-matching programs is offered by Johnson & Johnson, which will pitch in twice the total of employee contributions up to $20,000, effectively tripling donations. Several tech companies also offer generous matching gift programs at a ratio of one to one, including Google (up to $3,000) and Microsoft (up to $12,000).
Pros: Parents can easily double — or in some cases triple — their donations.
Cons: Not exactly a con, but parents have to work for a company with a matching program in order to participate.
Looking to tap into the wallets of the greater community without throwing a silent auction or begging door-to-door? DonorsChoose offers a new way to solicit dollars for in-class projects and equipment. Founded by Charles Best, who worked as a teacher in the Bronx for five years, the website makes it easy to drum up needed dollars. Teachers write a proposal, post their project on the site, and wait for the donations to roll in.
A similar website called Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing funding scheme to raise money for all manner of independently conceived projects. Unlike DonorsChoose, Kickstarter projects need not be limited to the classroom but can be used by parent-run groups or even student-driven fundraising. For instance, Brenden and Jared Sullivan, twin sophomores from Sauk Prairie, Wis., are raising money to fund productions of their local middle and high school musicals, which got axed in budget cuts this year. (Amount raised? $927 with 29 days to go as of the time this article was written.)
Pros: Online donations let teachers, parents, and kids fund their own ideas on their own terms.
Cons: Some projects might not receive the desired support from donors.
Though your parent community may not have enough disposable income to write big checks for school projects, chances are every one of them is spending money for other causes: i.e., keeping their kids clothed and fed. Charity malls allow a school to benefit from its community's purchasing power without asking for one thin dime of extra donation. OneCause steers a small percentage of your shopping dollars toward various educational causes. Depending on where you shop, between 1% and 5% of the total amount you spend will go to your school of choice.
For devoted shoppers, charity malls offer a nearly effortless way to give back to the community. On the other hand, when it comes to maximizing your charitable impact, a direct donation to a school would go just as far as all but the most manic of charity mall shopping sprees.
Pros: A painless way to access donations from parents.
Cons: Since only a small portion of money spent ends up at schools, charity malls aren’t the most efficient way to fundraise.
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