Crowdfunding: Some Districts Ban It, Others Embrace It

Sarah Schwartz’s Education Week blog follows the recent Crowdfunding Research Report published by EdSurge, and outlines many reasons why a multitude of school districts like Metro Nashville Public Schools are banning the use of crowdfunding sites like DonorsChoose.org. With the recent boom in education crowdfunding, Schwartz finds that “leaders are starting to voice concerns” because “they have no way of knowing whether the instructional materials and technology flowing into their schools through individual teacher requests are aligned to district standards” and they worry that “the decentralized process will make it hard to monitor how money is distributed among schools.” Others echoed these concerns, stating that “such sites are problematic for school districts because of lack of adequate controls.”

However, even with these concerns, Schwartz indicates in her research “that banning crowdfunding isn’t the way to go.” Instead, she points out that many leaders aren’t giving up on the “potential benefits” of crowdfunding because of the additional funding, supplies and experiences it provides for students. As the EdSurge crowdfunding report points out, “instead of banning educators’ use of these platforms altogether, administrators should manage teachers’ projects and create a unifying policy for crowdfunding in the school district.”

What Other Publications Have Said

Many recent publications are supportive of the latter idea, allowing crowdfunding with the right policies and platforms in place. A special report published in July of last year by the Ohio Auditor of State made a similar statement on its cover, that “with sound policies in place, school districts can ensure that online fundraising enhances student learning.” In this report, Auditor Dave Yost provides an informative overview of crowdfunding, surveys of Ohio school districts, specific liabilities of crowdfunding (including student confidentiality, financial controls and accounting, and reputational risks), and best practices for districts.

A few months after it’s publication, the California School Boards Association published guidance recommending that districts “be aware of all such campaigns conducted in the name of the district, a district school or a district employee.” The CSBA recommended that districts adopt policy to govern crowdfunding campaigns, and in it districts should “require prior approval,” list out the “criteria to be considered,” address “mechanisms for financial transparency,” and “identify the crowdfunding platforms that may be used.” 

Filling the Holes of a Deeper Problem

The problem, as many will agree, is the funding gap in America’s Educational system. State and federal funding for public schools dipped sharply during the Recession that began in 2008. Although the numbers have recovered somewhat, many districts are still not being funded at the same level. Today, reports indicate that about 94% of America’s public school teachers are spending their own money on classroom supplies, with the average annual expenditure totaling $480. Some teachers on social media even reported spending thousands of their own dollars to fund projects they find crucial to their students’ education.

While crowdfunding may never completely fill the gap, it has become a saving grace for many teachers, boosters, and parent organizations who otherwise can’t secure funding from their school or district. It has also become a reflection of the changing culture in schools and parents: turning away from the traditional methods of fundraising that require large sums of time and effort with high overall costs, and toward the easier methods of online donations that have lower costs and more transparency.

Overcoming the Challenges of K-12 Crowdfunding

At Livingtree, we consistently refer to Austin Independent School District, who was one of the two school districts featured in EdSurge’s full crowdfunding report, and Chandler Unified School District as examples of districts who have successfully overcome the challenges of crowdfunding. Leaders from both districts recently participated in a panel at SXSW EDU, and talked about the importance of realizing that fundraising has changed and is now a part of our reality. As Michelle Wallis, Executive Director of Innovation at Austin ISD stated, they chose to implement their current system and platform three years ago because they needed ways to safeguard everybody, including, teachers.

Austin embraced the reality that people want to, and expect to, give online and to have an easy experience doing so. Without a system in place, it becomes the “wild wild west.” Thus, they put together a set of guidelines and set up a system that the district endorsed, supported, and rolled out district-wide. Their system integrates with principal and district approval, so when a teacher posts a campaign, it is automatically sent to the principal and district for review. On the backside, their finances are linked with their bookkeeping system, and then it is all loaded into their donor database where they have tracking, reporting and receipting for every campaign.

Chandler Unified School District was in the same situation about a year and a half ago. As Chandler USD’s Chief Financial Officer Lana Berry stated in the SXSW EDU panel, “we found that we needed a crowdfunding platform because…this is the new method to raise the most amount of money with the best safeguards put in place,” however they “needed to standardize that and approve it.” Berry continued, that “we needed to have a system in place that we were proud of so that when people donated to a Chandler Unified District fundraiser, they knew exactly where their money was going.” So, they started by looking at their policies to make sure they had board policy to back what they were doing. They then looked at their procedures to determine what they allowed. Finally, they looked at what tools were currently being used, and found they had just about every tool out there – GoFundMe, SnapRaise, DonorsChoose. They knew how important it was to have the right processes and procedures in place to help guide their principals and their schools, so they went on a nation-wide search for a platform that would help with guidance, the approval process, account for the dollars that came back in, and that would meet all of the district’s needs.

After finding a platform that met their strict criteria, the district is now in control of their online fundraising and sending their online campaigns through the correct processes and procedures. As Berry says, “It’s important to take the first step and move to implement something because this area is going to continue to grow, it’s the new form of raising money. Parents love it and don’t like the old ways. There are still a lot of mechanisms in the old forms of fundraising, but more and more people are utilizing this new way of giving.”

Review and Approve Your District’s Campaigns

An important practice to note when it comes to crowdfunding is that districts need an internal review/approval process for every online campaign because only those with a vested interest in the district can properly assess that a campaign meets all district policies, as well as state and federal laws. Even crowdfunding sites that claim to “vet” campaigns before they are launched won’t catch everything pertinent to a particular district, let alone all state and federal laws. DonorsChoose, for instance, has been cited to have campaigns that posed some potentially significant legal and reputational issues for the associated schools and districts, even after going through their screening process.

As Erin Duryea Gilsbach, the Director of Professional and Policy Development for King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul, LLC, wrote in an article for the NSBA Council of School Attourneys: “a review of some of the posts from educators on DonorsChoose.org revealed some significant legal issues within the teacher posts themselves, including potential FERPA violations and liability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).” She later explains that these posts “included a number of potential FERPA issues related to teacher posted photographs, which were combined with specific written information in the posts about the classes. These descriptions could also legally be considered to be potential IDEA violations, and/or violations of specific district policies. Other posts, while they did not pose any particular threat of liability, painted the schools and/or districts in a very negative light when asking for funds.” Further in the article, Gilsback describes a number of real examples that pose serious risks to the organizers and associated districts.

The point is that even sites that are seemingly more protective can still miss major liabilities or even specific policies from within your district, thus making it imperative (regardless of whether you have a manual process or an automated process built-in to your chosen platform) that your district have some sort of internal review process of all online campaigns. At the end of the day, you have a mix of educators, parent organizations, boosters, teams and clubs who are launching campaigns in the best interest of their students but aren’t always aware of the legal liabilities or the political activities of the school district, which is why districts must safeguard everyone. This type of internal review process ensures that every publicly posted campaign is in the best interest of the district, is in compliance with policies and laws, and is in line with what a district is doing politically.  

Creating a Supportive Environment for Crowdfunding

So, while some districts may go with their first instinct and take the easy route of banning crowdfunding sites, it’s important to realize that this option forgoes the many benefits that crowdfunding has to offer for school districts. With the right platform, school districts can support, and even encourage members to raise funds for additional materials and experiences that they can provide their students. In order to do this, districts must take the first step to be aware of their current crowdfunding situation, and look into their current policies, procedures, and guidelines, as well as what campaigns are out there with a school or the district’s name on it.

It’s also important to be extremely selective of the crowdfunding platform that your district decides to support and endorse. Consider adopting a platform that has everything you need to truly oversee the crowdfunding process in your district – with an automated multi-level campaign approval process, tracking of donations, centralized fund routing, donor management, detailed reporting, and built-in tools for all of your parent organizations, boosters, clubs, teams, and teachers. These features are many of the reasons why Austin ISD, Chandler USD, and districts from all around the country are choosing to partner with Livingtree.

To hear Michelle Wallis of Austin ISD and Lana Berry of Chandler USD talk more about their journeys of successfully overcoming crowdfunding, you can watch their recent 30-minute session at SXSW EDU here:

If you need assistance locating crowdfunding campaigns from within your district, contact Livingtree Sales at sales@livingtree.com, and we’ll help provide a detailed report of all campaigns, as well as amounts raised and revenue lost.

For additional resources, Chandler USD and Austin ISD have shared their procedures and guidelines, which can be accessed at learn.livingtree.com/givetogether.

To request more information about how Livingtree Give can help your school district support online fundraising without the complexities, click below:

EdSurge Crowdfunding Report Lists Livingtree District as “Paving the Way”

Online fundraising is a growing area in K-12, and crowdfunding has exploded onto the scene over the last decade. While many students, families, teachers, and schools have embraced this new type of fundraising, school districts are facing unintended liabilities from these types of campaigns. EdSurge collected research on crowdfunding in K-12 over the last year, and just recently published a report of their findings. Among the seven crowdfunding platforms that EdSurge compared, Livingtree Give was effectively highlighted as a platform to:
– “Ensure that money raised through crowdfunding goes directly to the school or district, but that administrators can allow teachers to spend the money wherever they’d like in a secure and trackable way”
– “Maximize district oversight by providing administrators with full reports for campaigns in the district and ensuring that all campaigns have been approved before they’re published”

In the full downloadable report, Austin Independent School District was featured as one of the two “Districts Paving the Way.”

This section of the report uses Austin ISD (pictured below) as an example of a district that has developed strategies to support crowdfunding and boost teachers’ efforts. The district provides Livingtree Give accounts to teachers, boosters and parent organizations across their district. Once campaigns are approved, they feature these campaigns in their Livingtree Give public portal, which donors can access through the district’s website.

Austin ISD featured in EdSurge Report

Under the Integrations section of the report, EdSurge mentions Livingtree’s integration on Austin ISD’s website which links donors directly to their Give portal. The integration option is offered to all of Livingtree’s customers as part of the district plan.

The report also profiled the Livingtree Give platform, where Chandler Unified School District in Arizona was featured as a “highlighted project.” After going on a nation-wide search to find a crowdfunding platform that met all of their district’s needs, Chandler started their first year with Livingtree Give this fall and had garnered more than $50,000 in donations as of December 2018.

Livingtree is pleased to be recognized among the top crowdfunding platforms, and as one that truly helps districts manage the complexities and eliminate the liabilities of crowdfunding. To learn more about how the Livingtree Give platform can help your district, visit learn.livingtree.com/give.

To further understand the process of crowdfunding in K-12 schools, the liabilities that districts are facing, and how to develop policies and procedures around it, visit the EdSurge Report page and download their full report.

The Platform Built for Family Engagement

In our increasingly digital world, there’s an app (or a dozen) for every need and/or want we can imagine. Education technology is no different. Every week, it seems like there is a different app for behavior, communication, attendance – you name it. With limited direction from the school or district, teachers are left to sort through and drive these apps to try and find the best tools that work for their students’ families. But when is enough enough? When does one more app become too much for families? Why are we placing more burdens on our teachers, families, and students with too many single-purpose applications? Are we trying to use an app when a platform is needed? A resounding “YES” is the answer when it comes to family engagement.

Family engagement is the number one driver of student success, leading to increased attendance, better behavior, and improved academic performance. Yet, when it comes to technology, we’re letting the two-way conversations flow on public social media or offering classroom-level private social media that teachers, families, and students set up and manage themselves. Maybe we’re even doing single-direction notification apps instead of anything that approaches a conversation. These methodologies change from year to year, and there’s a lack of consistency from classroom to classroom within a school, and campus to campus within a district. We lose parents and families on the sheer basis of confusion and time to connect. Families become frustrated and experience “app overload” when there are too many places to check for information about their child. This then results in teachers become frustrated with the lack of participation and amount of time required to upkeep all the information.

At Livingtree, we created the technology to solve this. Taking a school or district-wide platform approach resolves the engagement barriers of time and consistency. Livingtree takes care of the set up for staff AND families while integrating with the school information system to keep classrooms up to date daily. This takes the time burden away and allows our educators, families, and students to focus on positive conversation and partnership. Providing a school or district-wide platform with engagement features (two-way conversation and messaging, translations, media sharing, volunteer and event management, etc.) can truly take family engagement to a whole new level.

The Benefits of Taking a District-Wide Technology Approach to Family Engagement

Based on what we know from sixty years of research, it’s not uncommon to see family engagement strategies incorporating things like Family Academic Socialization, Home Learning Support, Home Visits, Live Phone Calls, Parent-Family Conferences, Academic “Nights”, School Events, etc. A common missing component that allows families to consistently engage in their child’s learning in meaningful ways at home is a district-wide platform that promotes engagement.

As communication has evolved and changed in our ever-growing technological society, many schools and districts often forget to evaluate how their communication methods move the needle on family engagement and consequently end up using one-way communication methods that don’t provide families the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations about their child’s learning.

For districts to further their family engagement efforts, it’s important to recognize that in our increasingly digital society, families are expecting to communicate with their child’s teacher through technology in a way that is familiar and safe. Using a district-wide platform that allows this type of interaction provides a space for families to engage with educators and promote better learning outcomes for their students. This type of technology can help districts: conform to the needs of our younger-generation family populations, eliminate “app overload” and the sporadic usage of different tools, eliminate the burden of educators having to manage the setup of their own technology, and provide everyone with a tool that is unified with the district’s overall family engagement strategies.

One of the growing benefits of using a district-wide technology is that it is becoming one of the easiest and most impactful ways to engage families. We cannot overlook the changing family culture as generations shift away from Baby Boomers and into later Gen Xers and Millennials. Society is now in a time where 95% of people in the United States own a cellphone, nine-in-ten or more adults younger than 50 say they go online or own a smartphone, and young adults report preferring texting to phone calls. By accounting for these changes and adapting family engagement strategies, school districts can establish an impactful way through technology to have more meaningful two-way conversations with families that promote efficacy and engagement.

By accounting for these changes and adapting family engagement strategies, school districts can establish an impactful way through technology to have more meaningful two-way conversations with families that promote efficacy and engagement.

As Dr. Steve Constantino, a national family engagement expert has said: we don’t need to do extra to engage families, we just need to “do what we already do, only differently.” In this case, a family engagement technology can help districts sustain their family engagement efforts, but through a new channel that is familiar to families. (Read our previous blog for more on how technology improves family engagement)

Another benefit of a district-wide family engagement platform is being able to provide a consistent place for families to engage in their child’s learning from classroom to classroom, school to school, and year to year. Regardless of the classroom, grade, or school a child attends in the district, a family will always remain on the same unified platform. Without a district-wide platform, both schools and teachers are typically faced with using one of the many “teacher-parent” communication tools out there such as Remind, ClassDojo, or even social media, thus resulting in a number of sporadic tools and apps throughout the district.

This is important in regard to the concept of “App Overload.” If one teacher is using a free EdTech app, and the next is on Instagram, and the school administration uses Twitter in addition to a website, it can be harder than ever for families to stay engaged. While these apps are typically helpful in providing messaging, behavior reports, or classroom pictures, their sporadic teacher to teacher usage consequently causes an “App Overload” effect on families which leads to disengagement over time. By providing one consistent place for families to see what’s going on in the classroom, have conversations with their child’s educator, and view upcoming events from the classroom, school and district, engagement in their child’s learning increases (click here to learn more about App Overload in our Family Engagement Tech Guide).

By establishing a district-wide family engagement platform, the entire district benefits by saving teachers from the upkeep of classroom setup, rostering, and the adoption associated with the number of free teacher communication apps. However, when schools and teachers resort to using free apps or programs, they are often tasked with having to set up their classroom, upkeep the roster of students and families, and most of all push for families to onboard and adopt the platform. This is a lot of time and energy that educators don’t have, nor is it something they should have to do.

By partnering with a family engagement platform like Livingtree Engage, classroom networks are built for every school, rosters are created and updated with SIS integration, and families are automatically onboarded through emails and text messages at the beginning of every year – thus eliminating the burden and saving time for educators throughout the district.

The final benefit of using a district-wide family engagement technology is being able to provide everyone with a platform aligned with the district’s family engagement strategy. Years of research, planning, and development typically go into a school district’s family engagement process, and being able to sustain those efforts over time is crucial. With so much time and money going into providing professional development and family engagement training for district members, it’s important to be able to use a single platform that they can then effectively use. So much of that can be wasted if families are becoming frustrated and disengaged due to the overwhelming number of apps. But when educators understand how to engage every family AND have a unified platform to do so, then meaningful conversations that lead to the trusting relationships crucial to family engagement can occur.

Livingtree Engage is a district-wide platform designed to provide a safe, secure space for educators and families to engage in a child’s learning – because engaged families ultimately produce better learning outcomes for every child. So, if families have one consistent place to see what’s going on in the classroom, have conversations with their child’s educator, and view upcoming events from the classroom, school, and district, school districts will see increased family engagement, and ultimately student success.

2018-19 K-12 Mid-Year Crowdfunding Risk Report

Crowdfunding has exploded in K-12 education. The number of campaign requests, as well as the number of donations towards these campaigns have significantly increased over the years. Data from one popular crowdfunding site for teachers showed that during the 2017-2018 school year, over 254,000 campaigns were funded, resulting in over $152 million in funds raised for K-12 classrooms, projects, and experiences.

This type of online crowdfunding has opened enormous opportunities for K-12 school districts to raise funds for projects, equipment and supplies. Crowdfunding is ultimately helping close the education funding gap and support the needs of schools and students. Its efficiency and effectiveness have been proven not only through the generous donation amounts, but also through the speed and ease compared to traditional methods like burrito or donut sales.

Despite the many benefits of online crowdfunding, school districts need to be aware of the associated risks and liabilities. Every single campaign that is posted poses serious liabilities for a school district, depending on how the campaign is pitched, what names are used, what the campaign is raising funds for, and what type of student information (photos, names, etc.) is displayed. Every donation made to the campaign also comes with financial liabilities for a school district, including where that money is routed, who controls or oversees those funds, who owns the funds, how inventory is accounted for, and how the school district manages to report those funds.

The lack of proper built-in oversight, tracking and reporting on crowdfunding sites – even education-specific sites, present significant legal and reputational risks for school districts across the country. Every school district should have oversight for any online fundraiser conducted in the name of the district, a district school or a district employee.

At Livingtree, it’s our goal to help school districts understand the risks of crowdfunding, and better manage the process within their district to ultimately raise more money. Due to the recent publications from state auditors and school board associations on crowdfunding, Livingtree decided to take a deeper dive and report what is happening right now. To provide a better picture of the current risks school districts are facing this year, we took the latest data from the earlier mentioned crowdfunding website to develop this Mid-Year Education Crowdfunding Report.

According to the crowdfunding website, over 145,000 projects have been fully funded so far in the 2018-2019 school year. At that pace, we expect to see around 290,000 fully funded campaigns by the end of this school year, an increase of 36,000 campaigns from the previous year. In addition, this year’s completed campaigns have raised over $77 million of donations for teachers and school projects. Based on that number, we’d expect to end the school year with around $154 million of donations, an increase of $2 million over last year. Since this data is only taken from one popular crowdfunding site, it’s likely that the overall crowdfunding totals are much greater.

To further understand this issue, Livingtree compiled all of the campaign data from the crowdfunding site for the 2018-2019 school year and composed lists to help identify which states currently have the highest risk when it comes to education crowdfunding. Below, we’ll examine the states with the Highest Average Amount Raised per District, the Highest Average Number of Campaigns Posted per District, and the Highest Average Number of High Risk Campaigns Posted per District.

Note: the data is organized to represent states in amounts per district to give the most accurate representation of every state. Hawaii and the District of Columbia are not represented in the data.

Highest Average Amount Raised per District

StateAvg Amount Raised Per DistrictTotal Amount Raised (Statewide)
Florida$57,479.91$4,253,513.32
Nevada$42,042.15$756,758.69
Utah$40,327.33$1,653,420.65
Maryland$40,118.36$962,840.74
North Carolina$32,785.70$3,770,355.42
South Carolina$22,163.51$1,861,734.46
Louisiana$18,089.54$1,266,267.86
California$13,182.13$12,404,386.71
Delaware$13,141.04$249,679.84
Virginia$12,485.71$1,648,113.87
Georgia$10,534.94$1,896,289.92
Massachusetts$9,805.79$2,333,777.15
Texas$9,486.36$9,761,468.95
Tennessee$8,855.31$1,248,599.03
Connecticut$8,411.12$1,421,479.43
Arizona$8,395.31$1,897,340.05
Rhode Island$7,415.36$259,537.51
New York$7,076.41$4,932,259.16
Alabama$6,898.59$945,106.61
Mississippi$6,152.57$929,038.73
Alaska$6,018.77$318,994.63
Idaho$5,595.59$643,492.62
Colorado$5,291.34$941,858.24
Oregon$5,030.50$905,490.29
Indiana$4,891.85$1,447,986.53
Washington$4,837.99$1,441,720.76
West Virginia$4,749.19$261,205.20
Pennsylvania$4,356.19$2,178,095.45
Oklahoma$3,841.52$2,001,429.55
Illinois$3,826.11$3,309,581.73
New Mexico$3,691.19$328,515.69
Kentucky$3,689.04$645,582.54
Minnesota$3,072.05$1,044,497.13
Michigan$2,960.27$1,628,147.41
Wisconsin$2,899.49$1,223,582.74
Missouri$2,734.23$1,424,533.66
Arkansas$2,624.42$624,611.88
Ohio$2,441.36$1,508,758.66
New Jersey$2,376.73$1,430,790.69
Wyoming$2,031.94$97,532.93
New Hampshire$1,898.28$317,012.57
Maine$1,731.74$412,154.09
Kansas$1,263.09$390,295.37
South Dakota$970.19$146,498.51
Iowa$890.90$310,032.83
Nebraska$613.40$152,735.74
Montana$552.87$229,439.89
North Dakota$319.74$58,192.12
Vermont$228.82$60,409.64

Florida made number one on the list for the highest amount of money raised from the crowdfunding site, averaging out at over $57,000 per school district. The next three states all averaged over $40,000 in funding per school district.

Regardless as to whether these donations reach schools in the form of funding or project items, a district must be able to ensure that every dollar is tracked and properly routed, and oversee the process to maintain accurate inventory and donation reporting. State-wide totals are also included in this report for reference.

Highest Average Number of Campaigns Posted per District

StateAvg Number of Campaigns Per DistrictTotal Number of Campaigns (Statewide)
Florida107.27931
Nevada86.11550
Maryland76.01823
Utah64.62648
North Carolina62.57185
South Carolina47.03947
Louisiana30.12107
Delaware28.8547
Virginia26.13442
California20.819562
Georgia20.03595
Massachusetts17.04053
Connecticut16.02710
Tennessee15.82229
Texas14.514963
Rhode Island14.4505
New York13.19097
Alabama12.01646
Arizona11.82674
Mississippi10.41574
West Virginia10.3564
Indiana10.33035
Oregon9.31680
Colorado9.31661
Washington9.22739
Idaho9.01032
Alaska9.0475
Pennsylvania8.84399
Kentucky7.21258
Oklahoma7.13685
New Mexico7.1628
Illinois7.06057
Michigan6.03304
Wisconsin5.82458
Minnesota5.71951
Missouri5.72965
Arkansas5.01185
Ohio4.93030
New Jersey4.32601
Maine3.5831
Wyoming3.5166
New Hampshire3.3547
Kansas2.7848
South Dakota1.9294
Iowa1.9659
Nebraska1.4339
Montana1.0414
North Dakota0.6106
Vermont0.5120

Florida again tops the list at number one for the highest average number of campaigns posted from the crowdfunding site, at 107.2 campaigns per school district so far this year. The higher the number of campaigns being posted, the higher the risks and liabilities for school districts without fundraising controls in place. And without the ability for school districts to review and approve campaigns before they go live, it’s almost impossible to be sure that the campaign meets all of school district’s requirements.

Highest Average Number of High Risk Campaigns Posted per District

StateAvg Number of High Risk Campaigns Per DistrictTotal Number of High Risk Campaigns (Statewide)
Nevada7.7139
Florida6.9513
Maryland6.3150
Utah4.8198
North Carolina3.8434
South Carolina2.6220
Delaware2.547
Rhode Island2.278
Massachusetts2.2519
Virginia2.0259
Louisiana1.8127
New York1.61107
Texas1.61631
California1.41345
Georgia1.4252
Connecticut1.2209
Arizona1.0223
Tennessee0.9130
Washington0.8229
Pennsylvania0.7373
Illinois0.7621
Oregon0.7120
Alabama0.791
Colorado0.7118
Idaho0.776
Indiana0.6190
New Mexico0.653
Alaska0.529
Minnesota0.5179
Kentucky0.589
Oklahoma0.5259
Michigan0.4224
Wisconsin0.4170
Mississippi0.459
New Jersey0.4233
West Virginia0.420
Missouri0.3173
Ohio0.3197
Maine0.361
New Hampshire0.240
Kansas0.258
South Dakota0.228
Iowa0.259
Arkansas0.240
Nebraska0.128
Vermont0.09
Montana0.014
North Dakota0.04
Wyoming0.01

Nevada leads the way for the highest average number of high-risk campaigns posted from the crowdfunding site, at 7.7 high risk campaigns posted per district so far this year. At Livingtree, we identify high risk campaigns as those classified on the crowdfunding website as either “Special Needs” or “ESL.” The classification of high risk is due to the fact that “Special Needs” campaigns have a high possibility of violating a student’s IEP, which a district would be legally required to fund through IDEA. There are also special services that ESL students qualify for that can’t be funded outside of the school district. These are all in addition to the existing risks that go along with crowdfunding, making them much higher risk campaigns. So far this school year, “ESL” and “Special Needs” are ranked as the 7th and 8th most popular project categories.

What to do next:

Again, it’s important to note that these statistics were generated from a single crowdfunding site, and that this is only a piece of the “crowdfunding picture.” We’d expect that total crowdfunding numbers are much larger, however it is difficult to collect data from every single site out there.

Because of these statistics and the associated risks, some districts take the easy route by setting policies that ban crowdfunding. However, this option forgoes the many benefits that crowdfunding has to offer for school districts, and creates a new task of having to police the large number of crowdfunding sites to ensure district members aren’t using them.

The other option is to evaluate online fundraising management options and adopt one that provides an automated district approval process for all campaigns, tracks all donations, routes funds through a district account, gives the district access to their donor information, provides aggregated reporting for every campaign, and has built in tools to make fundraising easy for any PTA/PTO, booster, club, team, or district member.

Once a management platform is selected, procedures and guidelines can be written to accompany the school district’s fundraising policies (no, you don’t actually have to re-write policies!). These should clearly outline rules for only using the district’s chosen fundraising management platform, campaign approval criteria, required campaign content, and ownership of the funds raised.

Once this is all in place, start fundraising! With your district overseeing the entire fundraising process and having official procedures to guide the process, fundraising becomes manageable and easy.

If you are curious about your school district’s risk potential on the crowdfunding site we used, check out the free tool created by Livingtree to evaluate your district’s risk potential, dollars collected, and number of campaigns posted so far this school year: https://learn.livingtree.com/risk-analysis

Is your school district ready to start evaluating fundraising management solutions? Then download our free Crowdfunding Considerations Guide for K-12 School Districts and know the 7 important areas to evaluate when looking at fundraising sites: https://try.livingtree.com/crowdfunding-considerations-blog/

Data Sourced from:
https://data.donorschoose.org/explore-our-impact/

How A School District Raised Over $10,000 via Email

When you hear the word “homeless” the first image that comes to mind probably isn’t a child, is it? And yet there are more than 2,300 students in the Austin Independent School District that experience homelessness each year. The effects of that are something that no child should experience, especially during the holiday season.

That’s why the Austin Ed Fund launched a campaign to raise funds for Project HELP, a program of the Austin ISD that supports students experiencing homelessness by providing material support like gift cards for food and clothing, bus passes and connections to other community resources.

After launching the campaign, the Austin Ed Fund sent out emails that resulted in over $10,000 in donations, but how?

The Austin ISD is in its third year of using Livingtree Give, a platform that allows members of every school in the district to launch online fundraising campaigns, while allowing the district to oversee the process, ensure that all campaigns are in compliance with district, state and federal policies, and report on all of their fundraising activities.

Unlike other mainstream education crowdfunding sites who maintain and own the donor’s information for future advertising purposes, Livingtree Give enables the Austin ISD to store and build their own database of donors. With this database, the Austin ISD can easily provide information to previous donors about other campaigns within their district, and that’s exactly what they did for the Project HELP campaign.

Using Livingtree Give’s built-in email communication functionality, the Austin Ed Fund sent emails about the Project HELP campaign to their database of donors. In just a week’s time, their community came together to support the campaign and raise over $10,000.00. With such a generous response to the campaign, they’ve now doubled the goal from $10,000 to $20,000 in hopes of truly meeting the needs of every family and student experiencing homelessness this holiday season.

To see the progress or make a contribution, you can visit the Project HELP campaign page here.

For more information on how Livingtree Give can help your school district, visit http://wordpress-153222-715006.cloudwaysapps.com/give

Who own’s your donor’s information isn’t the only thing you should worry about. Download our Crowdfunding Considerations guide to learn about the 7 areas that administrators should consider when evaluating crowdfunding sites & policies for the district.

Is Your School’s PTA/PTO Ready for #GivingTuesday?

Every year on Livingtree Give, we see projects from outdoor gardens to programs for the arts.  Every project has an outcome directly related to students. Where else can you have such an impact on the future of our country and the world to inspire a life-long journey of learning?

One of the biggest problems for schools is funding. Schools need resources now to support the over 51 million students across our country. Our school’s educators, clubs, orgs, teams, and PTA/PTOs work tirelessly to secure funding that supports the additional educational resources and experiences for our students, and that often includes fundraising. One of the best days of the year to fundraise is on #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday started off as an idea in 2012 and has turned into the largest single day of philanthropy in the world. This day provides an enormous opportunity for your school’s PTA/PTO to market their campaigns, involve the community, and bring in more money than any other day of the year.

Here’s why you should launch a campaign:

1. Education is the second largest category of giving on the #GivingTuesday. People are already looking for opportunities to give to education so take advantage of the momentum.
2. It is a great way to engage your community in what your school is doing. #GivingTuesday is about connecting people to your mission!
3. If you have an urgent need at your school it is a great way to raise the money you need.

Livingtree Give has innovated school fundraising, and provides modern online tools for school PTA/PTOs. Every PTA/PTO account has the ability to manage their school and donor contacts, launch a multitude of online fundraisers, promote their campaigns and activity portal through built in email and social sharing tools, and both reconcile and report on all transactions automatically.

To help further innovations and improvements in Education Technology, Livingtree is donating part of the proceeds generated on #GivingTuesday to Ed Tech non-profit StartEdUp!

For more information and to sign up for a free account, CLICK HERE.

You can also download our “GivingTuesday for Education Toolkit” that we created in coordination with PayPal and 92Y.

You can learn more about #GivingTuesday and our partnership with 92Y and PayPal in the video below:

#GivingTuesday 2018 + Livingtree Give

Take part in this year’s global day of giving!

#GivingTuesday (11/27) + Livingtree Give

What is #GivingTuesday and how is Livingtree Give involved?

#GivingTuesday is a global movement where campaigns happen in almost every country in the world.  For the past two years, Livingtree Give (Formerly Edbacker) has been proud to partner with PayPal and 92Y (one of the founders of #GivingTuesday) to help promote #GivingTuesday in education.  Watch the video at the end of this for more!

When is #GivingTuesday this year?

This year, #GivingTuesday is on Tuesday, November 27, 2018.

Who can participate in #GivingTuesday?

Anyone, anywhere can get involved and give back in a way that’s meaningful to them. There’s no minimum or limit to how people can do good.  All types of organizations are welcome to participate.

Does my campaign have to end on #GivingTuesday?

While #GivingTuesday is celebrated on November 27th, your campaign can be much longer than one day. We see a lot of campaigns that kick off before #GivingTuesday or that launch on #GivingTuesday and connect to a larger end-of-year or holiday campaign.

To help further innovations and improvements in Education Technology, Livingtree pledges to donate part of the proceeds generated on #GivingTuesday to Ed Tech non-profit StartEdUp!

How can I get started?

We’ve put together a “GivingTuesday for Education Toolkit” to provide you with some helpful resources that you can use to setup a successful campaign, including:

#GivingTuesday mega messages
Sample outreach emails
Ideas for getting involved
Social media tips

Livingtree Hires Leading Expert in Family Engagement and Former Acting State Superintendent of Virginia: Dr. Steve Constantino

As the leading engagement platform provider for K-12 schools, we are excited to announce the hiring of the nation’s leading expert in family engagement and former Acting Virginia State Superintendent, Dr. Steve Constantino who joins Livingtree after an esteemed career in the K-12 education space.

“Through the Engage Platform, Livingtree is shaping how teachers and parents communicate in school districts across the country,” said Gary Hensley , CEO of Livingtree. “Adding Dr. Constantino’s breadth of expertise to the Livingtree team will give parents and teachers the tools they need to be actively engaged in the academic lives of their children.”

Dr. Constantino has dedicated his career to sharing with audiences around the world the importance of engaging all families. As a result of his experiences and his practical approach to engaging families, Steve has authored four books on the subject. His first book, Making Your School Family Friendly (NASSP, 2002) was published after being selected by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the MetLife Foundation to create the first-ever family friendly schools workshop, held in Washington DC.  His second book Engaging Every Family (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003) soon followed. This book expanded on the conceptual framework of the four domains of family engagement. In 2008, Steve released his third book 101 Ways to Create Real Family Engagement (Engage Press, 2008). Steve’s fourth and newest book, Engage Every Family: Five Simple Principles is published by Corwin (2016) and quickly became a bestseller.

As the SVP of Strategic Accounts, Dr. Constantino will direct the focus of our training, implementation and sales team as we strive to meet the needs of every family and school district.

“I am thrilled to be joining the LivingTree team. I am impressed with LivingTree, their visionary CEO Gary Hensley, their product and their heartfelt commitment to family engagement. They are changing the face of family engagement and I am so very pleased to be part of this fantastic journey. I am excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work on ensuring every family has the opportunity to be engaged with their children’s learning through advanced, state of the art technology. This truly is Family Engagement 2.0!”

Dr. Constantino began his career as a teacher and moved through the ranks to award-winning principal and school district superintendent. At the State level, Steve served first as Chief Academic Officer and was then appointed to Acting State Superintendent by former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Today, Steve continues to accept numerous invitations to speak and consult with schools, districts and educational organizations around the world and is also an adjunct lecturer at the School of Education, College of William and Mary where he teaches doctoral level classes in executive organizational leadership and planning and evaluation.

Photo by Kelly J Mihalcoe

LivingTree Education Sessions!

We’re thrilled to announce our participation in upcoming conference sessions. We’re sharing best practices and frameworks based on millions of conversations and points of engagement. The focus of these sessions will be using technology to create positive and inclusive environments. We hope you’ll join us in these important discussions!

Pennsylvania Family Involvement Conference – Harrisburg, PA

Engaging the WHOLE Community with Technology – Monday, 10/16 –  2:45-4:00 – Ballroom D

Texas Statewide Parent Involvement Conference – Houston, TX

Using Technology to Develop a Culture of Positivity – Saturday,12/2 – 8:30–9:45 – Alamo 2

National Title I Conference – Philadelphia, PA

Using Technology to Develop a Culture of Positivity – Thursday, 2/8 – 11:30-12:00 – Room A

National School Board Association Conference – San Antonio, TX

Closing The Engagement Gap – Using Technology to Build Trust and Partnership – Monday, 4/9 –  8:30-9:45

If you’re not attending the conferences but are interested in scheduling a webinar session for your school or district, contact us at info@livingtree.com.

 

 

 

Engagement & Fundraising

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