Donors Choose Update


by Susan
A national nonprofit compiles worthy recipients, presents them to potential donors, the donors choose, and the nonprofit bundles the contributions.  Sounds like Emily’s List, doesn’t it, compiling lists of pro-choice female candidates with a shot at winning?  But this time it’s teachers in low-income communities submitting proposals for worthy projects that potential donors can choose.

And remember last fall when GardenRant and thousands of other bloggers joined the Donors Choose Blogger Challenge to help raise money for the cause? There were plenty of great school garden projects and I chose one in the GardenRant Challenge and a schoolyard greening project right here in Washington, D.C. 

Well, I recently learned that Donors Choose takes a page from another successful fund-raising tactic – the thank-you letters sent by Save the Children recipients – when I got a nice package in the mail containing:

  • A thank-you letter and full financial report.
  • Photos of kids working on the project.
  • Hand-illustrated thank-you cards from the kids with little notes like this one: "My favorite plants to grow are: sunflowers."  Yeah, good choice.  And lots like this one "I love the tools! Thank you for helping us start our garden!  Love LaTayla."
  • And a letter from the teacher, Lola Bloom, which prompted one of those double-takes:  Hey, don’t I  know her?  Yeah, coz she’s co-director of City
    and a recent addition to the DC Urban Gardener Executive
    Committee.  She’d only been given my first name, so was surprised when I showed up at the meeting with the goodies from her class.

And look what else is new from Donors Choose: Stephen Colbert’s Democralypse Challenge. He’s urging viewers to show their support for Clinton or Obama in the Pennsylvania primary by donating in the name of their favorite candidate to projects in Pennsylvania schools.  And of course it’s working – about $107,000 as of last week*, 86 percent of it in Obama’s name.  Apparently his first foray into fund-raising – in his home state of South Carolina – resulted in donations of $66,000 to schools there.

The Colbert Report will be broadcast from Philadelphia this week, April 14-17, so you’ll hear lots more about the Democraylpse Challenge.  Here’s a clip of Stephen promoting it and showing off the art work that he received from kids in the donor schools.

*For the life of me I can’t find the current results.  I wonder if the results were SO lopsided they decided to take them down.  Hmm.


  1. Thanks so much for posting about, and I’m glad you received your thank you package from the students!

    I just wanted to share the link for the Stephen Colbert straw poll, which is still accepting donations:

    It can also be found by going to and clicking through the “GO” graphic on the homepage. We’re thrilled that so many classroom projects are coming to life through the “straw poll that makes a difference”!

  2. I found you by Oprah…and I live right near you and I want to know what you think about the privaticization of Union Square.

    Plus you should see my hydrangeas on E 18th st.

    Seriously I am the author of GRASSROOTS GARDENING: RITUALS TO SUSTAIN ACTIVISTS from of all things NATION books. It is a cool book about carrying compost to Union Square. And I am Minister at Judson Memorial.

    I’d love to know all of you!


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