How did the organization get started? DonorsChoose.org is an online charity that makes it easy to help students in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on the website, and individuals can give any amount to the project that most inspires them.
The organization grew out of a Bronx high school where teachers experi-enced first-hand the scarcity of learning materials in the public schools. Charles Best, then a social studies teacher, personally experienced this scarcity of learning materials in the schools.
He created www.DonorsChoose.org in 2000 to directly connect individ-uals and donors. Since then, nearly one million individuals have given [dollar]125 million to classrooms, supporting 7.2 million students nationwide so that in-dividuals could connect directly with public-school classrooms.
How has the business model changed since its launch?
The business model has not changed, but the way it operates has. In the early days, the back office of DonorsChoose.org was heavily manual.
Today we are highly automated, and use state of the art e-procurement systems to requisition, order and pay for more than 80,000 classroom projects per year. As a result, we have been able to grow donations by 400 percent with a minimal increase in headcount.
In addition, in the ear-ly days of marketing, it was strictly word of mouth. Today, marketing uses the full suite of social media to help get the word out and to let people know how they can make a huge difference in a public school classroom.
What are some significant events in the organiza-tion's evolution?
In 2003, our founder Charles Best appeared on Oprah, Oprah Winfrey's television show, to share the DonorsChoose.org story with her audience.
By 2007, public school classroom coverage included all 50 states.
Following the devastating tornados in Joplin, Mo., in 2000, we worked with our donor and teacher community to bring needed learning ma-terials to the 260 damaged or destroyed classrooms.
How do you view growth? This past fiscal year we channeled [dollar]40 million of donor contributions into more than 80,000 classroom projects. Our BI-IAG (big hairy audacious goal) is to grow to where one million donors have con-tributed [dollar]100 million dol-lars in a single school year to 100 percent of the nation's high-need schools - and thus help five million students.
Where do you see oppor-tunities?
We'd like families across America to visit our site at...