Friday, May 25, 2007

Why I'm NOT Participating in the BlogCatalog Bloggers for Good Fundraising Challenge

So in my Gmail account today I receive a message from BlogCatalog promoting something called the "BlogCatalog Bloggers for Good Fundraising Challenge":

Dear Crimson Wife,
This Monday, May 28th, join thousands of bloggers and use your blog to benefit
DonorsChoose.org, a non-profit Web site that brings teachers and donors together to fund specific student projects that range from "Magical Math Centers" to "Cooking Across the Curriculum".

BlogCatalog would like to challenge you to join the blogging community and use your blog to draw attention to and raise funds for this underserved non-profit organization that does so much good for our children and our schools.

The goal is to raise $25,000 for schools around the country, many of which are in New Orleans. Our hope is that we will blow this goal away and raise far more money. If we do we will have set a precedent that will enable the blogging community to do a bunch of good for other causes in the future.

We truly hope you will join us and use your blog as a tool for good and set an example for others of the the real value of online social communities.

Sounds interesting so I click over to the DonorsChoose.org website to learn more about the organization. Under the FAQ is the question:

What kinds of schools does DonorsChoose support?
DonorsChoose supports all public schools in Alabama, Chicago, Indiana, Los Angeles, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, the San Francisco Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties), South Carolina, and Texas. We do not serve private or parochial schools. For a detailed explanation of eligibility, please click here.

So I click on the eligibility details and up pops:

YES NO
Traditional public schools Private schools or parochial schools
Public charter schools Home school
etc., etc.


So much for "donor choice"!!!!!!!!!!!

If the mission of DonorsChoose.org is to allow potential philanthropists to find worthy projects that will benefit the education of needy students, why do they discriminate against students enrolled in non-government schools?

Are they suggesting that all private, parochial, and home schooled students are affluent and therefore not in need of the type of assistance provided by DonorsChoose.org?

Nothing could be further from the truth as private, parochial, and home schools serve children from all walks of life.

Or are they trying to make some sort of political statement against true educational choice for students???????

I think it's time they revise their slogan from "Teachers Ask. You Choose. They Learn" to "Teachers (in Schools We Support) Ask. You Choose (from Among the Options We Deem Worthy). They Learn (We Hope)."

2 comments:

Mike said...

Dear Crimson Wife:

I work at DonorsChoose, and I thought I'd respond to your blog post. No political statement is intended by our restricting donations to public schools.

DonorsChoose was started by a public school teacher. We exist to help public education, and our charter restricts us to that, even though we have been approached by police organizations, firefighters, homeschoolers and others to ask if we could extend DonorsChoose to include them.

Currently it is difficult, if not impossible, for individuals to donate to most low-income public schools, with any degree of accountability, as they are government institutions. We've built a system that enables donors to do that.

While of course private and parochial schools perform a very important role in education, those schools are usually non-profit organizations. If someone wants to make a donation to a private school, it is easy for them to do so.

As for homeschooling, it would be impossible for us to do. First, while I am not a lawyer, I believe that the IRS does not allow people to receive a tax deduction for giving to other individuals. Secondly, we do a number of things to assure our donors that the items we buy are being used for students and not for personal purposes. With homeschooling, we would not be able to ensure this.

If you have any questions about DonorsChoose you can reach me at michael@donorschoose.org . Thanks.

Crimson Wife said...

Dear Mike,
Thank you for your response. I can certainly understand why DonorsChoose.org could not allow individual homeschoolers to participate under current IRS regulations. However, there are plenty of homeschool groups that are 501(c)3 organizations and therefore eligible to receive tax-deductible donations.

Your statement about there not being ways to donate to public schools strikes me as odd as every public school I know of has a PTA/PTO.

It's your organization and you are certainly free to choose whom you will serve. I'm just disappointed at your decision to exclude students who attend non-government schools.