How to Get Your Project Funded on DonorsChoose

By
Alice Barton

Let's say you're a teacher and you want to improve your students' learning experiences without spending a lot of money. Easy: Head to DonorsChoose.org, write up a project request, then watch the donations roll in. The odds are better than even that you'll receive your books / projector / hand drums in a couple of months; according to data from Donor's Choose, 70.5% of projects on the site are successfully funded.

But what if you aren't satisfied with that success rate, or you have to choose between more than one project? If you're choosing between putting your time into a project for your foreign language students or your economics students, which is most likely to be successful?

To find out, we reviewed DonorsChoose project data by primary focus subject.

Out of the 27 possible categories, those focused on nutrition were the most likely to succeed, with 80% of projects receiving their funding. Environmental science and economics projects follow with a 78% and 77% success rate, respectively.

Want to ensure that your project gets funding? Try choosing a category for it: Projects labeled as "other" were the least likely to succeed, with just 59% receiving full funding. Projects labeled as "parent involvement" were similarly challenged, with a success rate of 60%. Early development projects do a bit better, with a 66% success rate.

Why are these types of projects more or less likely to succeed? We can only speculate. It seems obvious that labeling your project as "other" would make it harder for potential donors to find. The term "Parental involvement" is similarly vague, and may not draw the enthusiasm of passionate donors like projects for environmental science or economics. On the other extreme, we should celebrate the success of nutrition projects—the DonorsChoose community is clearly committed to teaching students how to live a healthy lifestyle.


[1] Sample sizes range from 1200 projects (Nutrition) to 221,000 (literacy).

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