Last week we did something a little different at DonorsChoose.org. Here’s what we saw and what we loved.
Thursday, March 10, was the culmination of months of planning, excitement, and and a lots of nervous jitters (we were never good at keeping secrets). The biggest flash funding of classrooms we’ve done, with 58 funders, over 11,000 classrooms, $14 million, and 47 states. Would it work? Would people be compelled to give? Finally, the #BestSchoolDay campaign launched—with the help of a lot of people—and the feedback was instantaneous and personally affecting. Here’s how it all went down…
Our pal Colbert got the party started…
Stephen Colbert kicked the day off for us with a fun appearance on CBS This Morning. There he explained what we were doing: uniting 58 actors, athletes, and entrepreneurs to donate $14 million to fully fund their hometowns or areas that meant a lot to them, and asking citizens across the country to join #BestSchoolDay by supporting a project.
Then the Huffington Post sparked the movement!
Our friends at The Huffington Post put their technological, editorial, and promotional savvy to work to build out a central hub chock full of inspiring #BestSchoolDay stories, an interactive map showing our stats and linking to projects that still needed support. They even allowed Colbert to take over their Twitter account with a hysterical and moving mix of jokes, stories, and memories.
Our teachers fueled the fire
Educators around the country knew something was coming as early as the afternoon before. They didn’t know exactly what it was, though. After they began to realize that so many projects were funded, and we had implemented a match offer for projects not yet funded, they couldn’t contain their excitement!
Their students had a blast, too
Some of the most adorable reactions we saw on social media: teachers inviting their students to thank their donors and dive into the #BestSchoolDay moment.
Our funders rallied behind the cause
We couldn’t possibly have pulled any of this off without our #BestSchoolDay funders. Their contributions were colossal, and we saw teachers and followers thanking them—from the CBS This Morning segment to the end of the day on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Here’s a class photo of a few of them representing DonorsChoose.org on the Late Show:
And our partners jumped in!
Our partners are a huge part of what we do every day at DonorsChoose.org, and many of them also joined in the party. Here are just a few among the many that we saw:
The donors are coming, the donors are coming!
No #BestSchoolDay gathering would be complete without the generous souls who fund projects on our site all the time. The quote above is just one example of a donor comment left on a project on our site. More often than not, they get personal, sharing genuine emotions with the teacher, their classroom, and fellow supporters of education. #BestSchoolDay multiplied those emotions exponentially.
We heard from classrooms across the country
As the news spread across the Internet, plenty of news outlets, both local and national, covered the excitement and impact of the event. Here’s a small sample of #BestSchoolDay stories:
- The Associated Press: “Flash funding highlights online philanthropy’s role in class”
- Rapid City Journal: “Suddenly, philanthropy pays for hard-to-reach education goals”
- USA Today: “Celebs, investors fund public schools in new campaign”
- Fast Company: “Celebrities Partner With DonorsChoose.org To Fund $14 Million In Teacher Projects”
- Upworthy: “15 celebs who just stepped up big time for classrooms in need.”
Twitter became our rallying point
The excitement for #BestSchoolDay lived and breathed on our social media channels, from the day before to well after March 10 became March 11. More than 30,800 tweets using the hashtag were sent and between the communities and people who added their voices to the mix, the campaign reached more than 200 million people on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, from Hawai’i to Maine. Thanks to our teachers, our funders, and our partners, we raised awareness, galvanized new teachers and supporters, and reached our goal to fund 20,000 projects!
What comes next
The best part of #BestSchoolDay? Last week was only the beginning. 17,700 projects are still active on DonorsChoose.org. As these projects get fulfilled, more teachers’ and students’ dreams will come true, and we’ll come that much closer to making every day #BestSchoolDay.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to our teachers, funders, partners, and everyone else who gave us our #BestSchoolDay!
Text: Eric Vilas-Boas
Graphics: Lynn Overmyer
A version of this post was originally published on Medium.