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We update our site a lot (you probably noticed).

If you’re a frequent visitor to DonorsChoose.org, chances are you’ve stopped by on occasion and discovered that things look… different. A new button here, a new photo there, and sometimes an entirely re-designed homepage. We are constantly tweaking, enhancing, and upgrading our site to make it easier for both donors & teachers to use – with the end goal always being to raise more money for classroom projects nationwide.
Just about every two weeks we launch a site update. These updates usually include many small changes and fixes, as well as a few larger and more noticeable ones. We’re gonna start outlining the biggest updates and changes here, to help give you guys a bigger window into the work we do, and the changes you see. Sound like a plan?
Ok. So on Tuesday of this week we released an update that included three fairly big items. These are:1) Automatic Facebook updates for teachers2) Redesigned project pages 3) Change in the project cost calculation / optional donation
I tackle them in more detail here:
1) Automatic Facebook updates for teachers – This is a feature that every teacher with a Facebook account can sign up to use. It’s an easy way for them to help motivate their networks, inspire donations, and just to let their friends and family know about the great work they’re doing. Once signed up, we’ll automatically publish updates to their page in the following scenarios:
– New project posted– Project receives a new donation– Project becomes eligible for Double Your Impact or Almost Home offer– Project that is soon to expire– Thank-You Photos posted
Here’s an example of what it’ll look like. We’re pretty excited about it – and so far our teachers seem to be too!
2) Redesigned project page – Probably the most immediately visible change. We wanted to bring the most recent activities to the top of the page. This way folks visiting the page for the first time, or returning for updates, wouldn’t need to scroll all the way to the bottom, where they might never be found at all. At the same time we just tried to pretty things up a bit. We got rid of the two-tabbed layout and put all the info on one page, where you can simply expand various sections for more detail. While it is indeed a big change from the last iteration, we think it’s a good one that we’ll all grow to love. Maybe?
3) Change in the project cost calculation / optional donation – This one is a little trickier to explain, but here goes. Essentially, we’ve made it easier for donors to opt-out of the optional donation we ask them to make. We’ve also made it easy to give less than the suggested amount, while not excluding it entirely. And for those generous souls interested in giving *more* than the suggested amount, they can now do that too. It’s a simple drop-down menu, sort of like the amounts you can choose to give from the project pages.
Here’s the nitty gritty:
– The suggested optional donation to support DonorsChoose.org is dropping from 18% to 13%.
– Previously, each project included a mandatory $9 fee for thank you package materials. This is being raised to $35 per project, and now helps cover additional costs inherent to each project, such as project authentication, ordering materials and coordinating delivery, processing photos and thank-yous, and any issues that might arise during the process.
So, why the change? Well, folks have long mistaken our 18% optional donation as an invitation to support our “overhead.” In fact, the revenue thus generated covers direct program costs as well as administrative costs. The new 13% fee still covers more than just overhead (teacher outreach, for example), but it will no longer be used to cover costs inherent with each project we post. We see this change as a way of bringing greater clarity & transparency to our processes, while empowering our donors with an even greater level of choice in their giving.
It’s worth noting that the optional fee will remain 18% for any projects posted prior to July 1st that had received at least one donation by that day. For the simple reason that the math & logic got too complicated to carve out exceptions for each of them. So for the next few months you might see some projects with an 18% fee and some with 13% – but in good time they’ll all be on the 13% bandwagon.
Phew! That was a lot of jabbering – hopefully it was moderately helpful! More changes coming soon, rest assured. I’ll keep ya posted.

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