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How to Expertly Set Up and Use Fundraising Platforms to Grow Your Art Program

How much of your own money have you spent on your classroom this year? It’s no secret that the funds for a lot of the things in your room came from your own pocket. A few dollars here for some prizes and a few there for cotton balls or aluminum foil. You know the drill.

Maybe your budget doesn’t always cover everything your art room could use. Maybe you have a project you have been dreaming of but can’t quite figure out how to finance. You are not alone. Art teachers everywhere are using these fundraising platforms to help!

These three fundraising platforms can help you get exactly what your art program needs. Let’s look at how to get started!

paper feathers

1. Amazon Classroom WishList

Amazon Classroom WishList allows you to share a virtual wishlist of Amazon products with your network. People can access your list and help you by purchasing supplies from it. The items are then shipped right to your door or school. WishList is best for general supply ordering and restocking of materials. Post a physical flyer displaying a QR code or share the link on your social platforms. WishLists are a popular way to invite others to be a part of the work you do in your art room every day!

Why choose WishList?

  • Control the number of items you need.
    You can customize the number of items on your list to make complete classroom sets or replenish dwindling supplies. No amount is too small.
  • Get supplies in your hands quickly.
    Instead of waiting for a donor or a lump sum, WishList materials arrive as soon as people buy them. This way, you can quickly put supplies to good use.
  • Benefit from #ClearTheList movement.
    Amazon and other companies do their part to support teachers by buying the remaining items on Amazon WishLists during the back-to-school season.

What are art teachers using WishList for?

1. Books for art project inspiration.

Jaime Marker, an elementary art teacher in Texas, shares, “I use books as an inspiration for most art projects and to inspire the students to see that illustrators are artists too!” The Day the Crayons Quit, Lines That Wiggle, and Beautiful Oops! are just a few of the titles on Marker’s list. Marker gave her link to parents and the local community to invest in their students.

books

2. Items to refine fine motor skills in young students.

Jen Balanger is an elementary art teacher in Massachusetts. Jen said, “I asked for things that I found I’ve needed in the post-Covid teaching era. Tracers, large hole punchers, organizers… any item that would help foster independence and fine motor skills.” Parents at Balanger’s school shared many teachers’ list links on the school’s social platform. The amount of support she received outside of the school community touched her.

How do I set up WishList?

Watch this video for a look at the process and some tips, or follow these steps:

  1. Create a List.
    Select this option under Accounts & Lists at the top right-hand corner of your Amazon account home screen.
  2. Add products to your List.
    Click the Add to List dropdown menu at the bottom of the purchasing options box, below the Add To Cart and Buy Now buttons.
  3. Select your List.
    Amazon automatically adds the item. Consider selecting items of varying value to give your supporters options.
  4. Share a link to your List.
    Use your various social media platforms or email.

2. DonorsChoose

DonorsChoose allows you to post classroom projects with purchase orders for donors to fund. DonorsChoose is great for supplying classroom centers and special projects. One special note is that you must be a PreK–12 teacher in a public school. If you teach in a non-public setting, GoFundMe is an alternative platform.

Don’t wait until back to school to make a project; you never know when projects in your area may be flash funded. When you do make a project, relate it to multiple subjects and STEAM to increase the chance of matching funds. Tell the public about your students, select materials for your project, and share how you will use them. Donors can then partially or completely fund your project. You will receive the supplies to your school once your project is fully funded. Thank your donors, and put the items to good use!

Why choose DonorsChoose?

  • Select materials from various vendors.
    DonorsChoose works with select vendors to provide special pricing and excellent service. You can choose materials from Amazon, BestBuy, Scholastic, Lego, and, of course, Blick.
  • Fund experiences for yourself and your students.
    You can request funds for virtual trips or visitors to your classroom. Donors can also help fund your virtual professional development. This can be a conference, program, or even a class!
  • Take advantage of one-to-one matching donations.
    Corporations and foundations offer to match individual donations for certain projects. Matching makes donors’ money go farther and helps you reach your goal sooner.

What are art teachers using DonorsChoose for?

1. Furniture options, such as stools, for the art room.

“I got rid of all the big bulky chairs, and now we only have stools, which fit neatly under the table, allowing my artists to have more room to stand and move around while they are creating,” Jennifer Hamilton, an elementary art teacher from MI, shares.

A DonorsChoose user since 2011 with 70 projects funded to date, Hamilton raves about her love for the platform! Donors have generously doubled her classroom supplies and funded iPads. Hamilton is forever grateful for how she has been able to maximize opportunities for her art students.

classroom
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Balanger

2. DSLR cameras and other equipment for digital photography.

Abby Schukei, a middle school art teacher in NE, says that “having light booths, cameras, and studio lighting have elevated the classroom experience for my students.”

Schukei describes DonorsChoose as easy to use. Submitting requests for three DSLR cameras at once kept the overall cost of her projects low because classroom sets are easier to fund. She found that replenishing more expensive materials like glaze stretches her art budget further.

How do I set up DonorsChoose?

Watch this video for a look at the process and some tips or follow these steps:

  1. Create an account.
    Select this option at the bottom of the box that appears when you sign into DonorsChoose.
  2. Start a project.
    Provide the grade level, the monetary amount needed, and how your students will be positively impacted.
  3. Shop for materials.
    Add supplies to your cart from vendor platforms. Keep projects between $100–$500 for the best results.
  4. Submit to Your Purchasing System.
    Extra fees such as third-party payments and shipping are automatically added. Be transparent and tell donors what you are purchasing and why when summarizing your cart.
  5. Add project details.
    Give your project a title, share the positive impact it will have on your students, and select subject areas.
  6. Receive your materials.
    Your project will be live for up to four months. Vendors ship materials when your project is fully funded.
  7. Thank your donors!
    Upload photos, mail letters from students, and write an authentic message to convey what your students gained and learned from the project.

3. Artsonia

Artsonia allows you to curate an online gallery of student artwork which parents can customize products with. You or your students photograph the finished artwork and upload it to the site. Parents and community members can print this artwork on t-shirts, mouse pads, tumblers, phone cases, and more. Artsonia donates twenty percent of gift shop sales to your art room! This donation is handy for those unexpected expenses or last-minute fun purchases.

artwork on shirt
Photo courtesy of Marina Alfera

Why choose Artsonia?

  • Offer a variety of products.
    The Artsonia Gift Shop offers many products for supporters to choose from. The range in prices allows everyone to find an item in their budget. Purchasers can always opt for a simple print of an artwork.
  • Control fund payouts.
    Artsonia puts your percentage of gift shop purchases into a fund. You can redeem this money at any time and in any amount through gift cards or a check made out to your school.
  • Highlight student artwork.
    Build confidence and pride by offering parents a chance to show off their student’s work. The school community gets to see firsthand the skills they are supporting with their purchase.

What are art teachers using Artsonia for?

Must-have supplies for anything and everything you can think of.

“Not only is it a great platform for student work, but the customer service is phenomenal, and I have been able to raise a great amount of money for my art room to purchase new supplies,” says Marina Alfera, an elementary art teacher from PA.

Alfera reports a very positive experience with Artsonia for the past six years. She sees parents buy t-shirts, mugs, magnets, and ornaments the most often. Take time to set up your account how you like and teach your students how to photograph and upload their own work. It takes some work on the front end to get this platform running, but it’s well worth it in the long run.

watercolors

How do I set up Artsonia?

Watch this video for a look at the process and some tips, or follow these steps:

  1. Create an account.
    Visit Artsonia to set up your account. Add a student roster manually or from a spreadsheet.
  2. Add a project.
    Name the projects and provide a description. You can even link to NCAS if you want!
  3. Photograph finished artwork.
    You or your students can use iPads or other photo devices to capture pictures of completed artwork.
  4. Upload artwork to a gallery.
    Give the artwork a title and write an optional artist statement. Use the Artsonia app for easier uploading.
  5. Connect with families.
    Import emails via a spreadsheet, print out a handout, or supply a class QR code to get families on Artsonia.
  6. Promote keepsakes.
    Notify families of the option to purchase items from the gift shop to help support your art program.
  7. Redeem your funds.
    Request a payout of your Artsonia funds in the form of gift cards to Blick and Amazon or a check to your school.

You are not alone in your quest to fund a variety of meaningful art experiences for your students. There are communities near and far willing to come alongside you. Choose one of these fundraising platforms to help spread the word about what your art program needs to grow. The generosity of others may surprise you!

How have you used these platforms to grow your art program?

What project will you fund next using one of these platforms?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.

Mariana VanDerMolen, an elementary art educator, is a current AOEU Writer. She enjoys teaching for creativity, with a focus on ELL and therapy in a process-based art room.

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