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Skip DonorsChoose, donate to Iserotope directly

donors-choosefavicon The kind people over at DonorsChoose aren’t going to like this post very much.

Over the past seven years, DonorsChoose has helped me complete more than 30 projects, which has brought thousands of dollars — including hundreds of books — to my classroom.

So why am I telling people to bypass the site and donate to me directly?

Here are a couple reasons why:

1. DonorsChoose has very high administrative costs.
The site used to keep costs down, but now, things are getting out of hand. For example: I just completed a project for 11 books. (Thanks, Donors!) The cost of the books was $110. Sales tax made it $120. And then came the DonorsChoose fees: $30 for fulfillment and a $26.87 “optional” donation (which I don’t think is optional). The total cost: $179.13. That’s a lot more than the original $120.

2. DonorsChoose does not always have a wide selection.
The site partners with third-party companies. For books, for example, you have to buy through AKJ books, whose selection is fairly limited. Sure, you can request items from any company, but doing so requires more DonorsChoose points. There have been many times that I’ve wanted to purchase a book for a student but cannot because AKJ books does not have it in stock.

Please don’t get me wrong: DonorsChoose has been very helpful to me, and the site does have some advantages. For example, DonorsChoose does a great job connecting teachers with anonymous donors. Many strangers over the years have given to my students because of the popularity of DonorsChoose. In addition, the site knows how to encourage big businesses to donate to education. Some of my larger projects (like the document camera, for example) came from corporate contributions. Therefore, despite its high administrative costs, I am likely to keep my DonorsChoose page updated with potential projects.

Nevertheless, let me be clear: If you want to donate to The Kindle Classroom Project, your money will be more efficiently used if you donate it to me directly rather than going through DonorsChoose. And you’ll get a thank-you letter for tax purposes!

Convinced? Ready to donate? It’s quite easy! Here are two choices:

1. Go to the Kindle Classroom Project donation page and make a contribution!
You can donate $10 for one book, $36 for three months of The New York Times, $70 for one Kindle, or any other amount!

2. Go to the Iserotope Contribute page!
This page offers more ways to contribute. If you want complete control over which books to buy, for example, you can go to my students’ Amazon wishlist and purchase books directly for them.

* * *

I’m happy to report that the Kindle Classroom Project has expanded to a second classroom, this time in San Francisco. Eighteen ninth graders will check out their Kindles on April 1. The students will no doubt be happy with the 205 books they can find on their devices. But I’ve also told them that they should feel free to request books, too.

And that’s where you — and all the friends you tell — come in! Please consider buying an e-book (or two, or three) for the students. Remember, each e-book you buy can be shared on six Kindles, so it’s like getting six copies of the same book. Plus, an e-book lasts forever; it never gets lost or damaged or forgotten in someone’s locker.

Thank you for helping to build the Kindle Classroom Project and for caring about young people and their reading lives! If you have any questions or concerns, please leave me a comment. favicon


  1. Meg Griswold

    I am sad to hear that the overhead costs on Donors Choose projects have become prohibitive. I think you are doing the right thing to eliminate the middle man. Good luck!

    • Mark Isero

      Meg, sometimes I wonder whether it was a good idea to write that post. Karma? On the one hand, DonorsChoose has been very good to me. On the other, it’s important to tell people that their money could go farther if they donate directly to me. I won’t give up on DonorsChoose entirely; people like the site, and so do I, and my projects there tend to be funded.

Please share your brilliant insights!