We all have seen intriguing fundraising campaigns that come across our social media news feeds. I’ll never forget watching the viral video of Karen the bullied bus monitor and the associated Indiegogo campaign to a fund a vacation for Karen. The original goal was $5,000, but within thirty days the fund had reached $703,873. I began to wonder in awe as a superintendent, what a fabulous tool. Yet at the same time I became perplexed as to how do we manage this?
I began searching some of the other online fundraising(crowdfunding) websites to see how schools were using them. I found that for the most part, schools were not using the sites, but rather they were being used by individual teachers. This in and of itself is not necessarily an issue. We all love teachers who take the initiative and try to find creative solutions to problems that we face in education. In many instances a problem for innovative creative teachers is a lack of funds to implement their ideas.
When I looked at my own district I found that there were several fundraising events going on through online campaigns that I was not even aware of. This was problematic on several fronts. In some instances “I thought, they should have told me, I would have happily contributed to the fund.” In other cases I quickly recognized better communication was needed since had I known of the need we could have addressed it using school district resources. Lastly, we get periodic feedback from area businesses and individuals that there appears to be no coordination of fundraising. Additionally, I was was concerned with the large percentage that some of the platforms charged in fees. Finally, I began to wonder, if teacher x raises $2,000 to buy 4 ipads then to whom did the ipads belong? Teacher X or the school? Who did the contributors think the donations were going to? How do we even know if the money raised goes to the purpose it is being raised for?
In reviewing our policies, not surprisingly none of the policies directly spoke to fundraising online. They were silent on the topic. In searching through other school district’s policies I found that just about everyone else was in the same position. Education has not kept up with the tools and resources available in the arena of crowdfunding.
The solution to this problem came to light while working with the founders of a new company called Classmunity. Through Classmunity, I was introduced to a fundraising tool that allows all fundraisers, both online and face-to-face to be managed through one online platform. It allows teachers and organizations the flexibility to tap into the power of crowdfunding, yet provides the district to have oversight. Here’s how it works.
Since being introduced to Classmunity we have begun the process of utilizing the online fundraising and management system. It is refreshing to know that we can provide a tool that allows our staff to raise funds for worthy causes, it allows our parents to contribute to causes they are willing to support, and it gives peace of mind to know that the money raised is going directly into the intended account. Classmunity also worked with me to create the policies we were seeking to update in order to address the new powerful tools we have available to us online.
Superintendent – Elkhorn Area School District