In 2000, Bronx high school teacher Charles Best launched DonorsChoose.org to enable individuals to connect directly with classrooms in need. Public school teachers post classroom project requests (such as pencils for a poetry writing unit or microscope slides for a biology class) at DonorsChoose.org. Donors browse the lists of classroom needs, give any amount and hear back from the class they helped with photographs, thank-you letters and a cost report showing how every dollar was spent.
In 2006, DonorsChoose.org developed a string of technology and marketing break- throughs that have empowered corporate partners to engage millions of people in support of public school teachers and their students. Companies have used DonorsChoose.org gift cards to give their customers the ex- perience of supporting classrooms in need. Retailer Crate and Barrel, for example, has distributed more than 1 million gift cards to its customers and experienced growth in sales, customer engagement and brand loyalty.
DonorsChoose.org’s application programming interface allows business partners to leverage the organization’s online program platform to create their own cause market- ing programs. The first such program, Sonic Drive-In’s Limeades for Learning, engaged teachers, students and parents to raise $1.35 million for classroom resources in commu- nities across the country. The expanding group of DonorsChoose.org corporate partners includes American Express, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Chevron, Microsoft, U.S. Cellular and Yahoo!
For leading cause marketing into the digital age; for forging creative, high-tech, high- touch partnerships with a diverse group of corporate partners; and for helping enrich the classrooms of millions of students, the Cause Marketing Forum honors DonorsChoose.org with the 2011 Cause Marketing Golden Halo Award for Nonprofits.