I recently found the website, donorschoose.org, which allows educators to create proposals for classroom project materials. Once the proposal is approved, it is posted on the donorschoose.org website, where individuals can then fund the project by donating money.
The site interface is simple, and one of the first things I did as a new visitor was search for proposals from schools in my area. By typing Bakersfield in the search box, I found several local schools who had active proposals.
In addition to the site, Social Actions Labs created a WordPress plugin called Possible Related Classroom Projects which displays donorschoose.org campaigns at the bottom of posts based on content. Clay Burell did a nice job of summarizing donorschoose.org and the WordPress plugin here.
And while I like the idea of the plugin, I have a couple of recommendations as to enhancements. First, why not offer an option to embed the project campaign links into the sidebar? I understand sidebar real estate is limited, but it would allow for an educational-focused website (such as a PTA or school parent club) to display the information in a more prominent position.
Secondly, instead of showing proposals related to content, why not allow keywords to be included–similar to donorschoose.org website search results? For example, only showing Bakersfield-related projects. I realize this limits the results, but again, if I’m supporting a Bakersfield educational-related website, I probably don’t want proposals from other areas to be displayed. Not to mention the kinds of results that may be displayed based on my content. I noticed there is a way to not display related proposals in a post using a variable, but this does not seem ideal.
Again, I think the donorschoose.org concept is great! What a neat way to support educational projects–both at the national and local level. And no doubt the WordPress plugin can enhance the ability to support those projects, but I think the plugin could be enhanced to offer multiple placement options, and the ability to focus on local search results.
UPDATE:After being contacted by someone at donorschoose.org regarding the enhancements I mentioned, I was informed that the website allows the ability to create custom RSS feeds and widgets. By using the SpringWidgets creator, you can get code for multiple scenarios.
After doing a search for Bakersfield, I used the options from SpringWidgets to export the widget into html, which I then embeded into a WordPress sidebar widget and bingo. You could also embed into a single post, which might be a useful solution if the post is specific for education campaigns and not the entire focus of the website.