As the year winds down and the season of giving ramps up many of us look to those around us who may be in need of a helping hand. No matter your motivation; tax write-off, guilty conscience or a natural desire to help others, you should be aware of a website that can put your donated dollars directly into the hands of school children. DonorsChoose.org is dedicated to helping improve public school classrooms across the country by connecting classroom teachers with micro-philanthropists.

The DonorsChoose model is simple: Teachers write up a request for materials they need in their classroom and Donors are able to view projects and donate what they can to help fund the a project. Donations can be made in any amount and accumulate until the goal amount is reached. Behind the scenes, the DonorsChoose staff and volunteers confirm the legitimacy of the projects and order the requested materials, so you can rest assured that the money you donate ends up buying materials for the classroom.

Another benefit is the power of choice you are afforded as a Donor. You make the decision where your money goes. Often we give money and never know how it is used or who it helps, no face or story ever gets connected to that $20 dollars you stuffed into the Bell Ringer’s pot. With DonorsChoose you are empowered to make the decisions and your efforts to help will be rewarded with letters of gratitude from both the students and teachers you choose to fund. You have the power to choose where you donation goes, the site can be searched by state, city and even school district.  If locale is unimportant you have the power to choose what type of project you want to fund; technology, books, supplies or school trips.  DonorsChoose.org will also let you search by type of school, age level of students, subject, and project status.

Macro-Philanthropists have jumped in to help out these teachers and students as well. DonorsChoose has developed some interesting ways to use large gifts to help out as many classrooms as possible. Large donors can use funds to match the micro donations in a classroom or fund as many open projects in a region or category as possible. These fund matching projects are a great way to see your money go even further.

Want to know more? Here is a great interview from AllThingsD with the CEO and founder of DonorsChoose.org explaining how it all works.

[Disclaimer: I am a teacher who has had projects funded on DonorsChoose.org and currently have open projects posted. You can view my projects at www.donorschoose.org/mr.sills]

Photo: stevendepolo