Crate & Barrel sent me a letter about a month ago saying that they wanted to thank me for being a customer and that they were doing a program where customers can select where a $25 donation will go. Thinking the site would be some portal to non profits, I checked it out and also of course figuring if I can get $25 sent to another worthy cause, great. donorschoose.org actually is a very specific site where they have accounts related to education and requests by educators to fund their specific projects. They don’t always tell you where they are, but the options are quite extensive.
I chose the SF Bay Area because I have a sense of local issues here and then I selected arts & music – there were several options for different types of projects – technology based, reading based, by subject, region, etc. but that one interested me since the arts are so generally neglected in schools here. Finding thousands of proposals just for the arts, having a toddler at home who is very musical and going through the preschool selection process where I am seeking a school with a good music program that my daughter will love, I decided to search for ‘preschool music’ and the first one that came up said something about creating an environment for dance and music at a preschool and helping by purchasing a cd player and instruments for the classroom so I put my $25 gift card toward that.
You can fund the whole project yourself, of course, or add to the personal donations. What I didn’t find out is what happens if these programs are only partly funded – do they get any money? do they get some money? do they go through another process? I’ll check that out another time, but I wanted to mention it as an interesting way to be really specific about where your money goes rather than just having a blanket $25 donation going to the Red Cross and not knowing where that money will actually end up. I’m in favor of both kinds of systems, of course. Organizations need to manage their own funds in order to operate properly, but I think this is an interesting business model that provides a more local feel to contributing in the education space.