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Guide to Kickstarter for Teachers

kickstarter for educatorsCrowdfunding is a relatively new online development that allows a large group of unknown individuals to each contribute a small amount of money to help a cause reach its funding goal. Kickstarter --- a micro-funding website that TIME magazine called one of the 50 best inventions of 2010 --- has become a top source for funding creative projects. Inventors, artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians have received funding on the site. Now many teachers have discovered that they can fund education projects on Kickstarter.

Anyone can post a project on Kickstarter. Projects can be any size, serious or silly, innovative or traditional. What compels donors to support projects on Kickstarter? They are drawn in by an effective project profile that personalizes the project and shows the passion and sincerity of the project owner. According to Kickstarter, over 20,000 projects have been successfully funded in the past two years, representing nearly half of all projects posted.

Kickstarter uses an "all-or-nothing" model for project funding. This means that a project must meet its goal by its funding deadline in order to receive any funding. Donors do not have to honor their pledges until the funding goal is met, so even if a project has received pledges for a large portion of its funding, the project owner gets nothing unless the project is 100 percent funded. Project creators need to carefully plan their funding amount to make sure they get enough to fund their budget but don't ask for more than they think they can raise.

No maximum limit is set on project funding. According to Kickstarter, more than 90 percent of successful projects exceed their funding goal. One of the top projects to date, the Pebble Smart Watch, had a funding goal of $100,000 and raised over $10 million (a pledge of $99 came with a watch). Once a project is fully funded, Kickstarter charges a 5 percent fee and the owner of the project retains 100 percent of all proceeds that it may generate.

Kickstarter can't be used for general funding for classroom supplies (sites like DonorChoose.org are better for general nonprofit fundraising), so a teacher creating a project must have a specific creative goal in mind. Kickstarter is perfect for teachers who are education entrepreneurs.

Here are some examples of successful funding for teachers on Kickstarter:

Just Add Water: Making the City of Chicago

The project was created by teacher Renee Kreczmer to fund publication of a book on Chicago history written for younger elementary school students. The book uses a unique investigative format that encourages students to learn through discovery. The project funding goal was $10,000 and $10,261 was raised.

Teaching Teachers to Teach Vonnegut

The project, which was created by the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, will develop a free five-day workshop that will help high school teachers incorporate the work of Kurt Vonnegut into their curriculum. The funding goal of the project was $2,000 and $2,205 was raised.

My Best Teacher: The Educational Legacy of Frances and David Hawkins

Former professor Cynthia Gray created this project to complete a documentary about two outstanding educators. The documentary will also examine how students describe their best teachers and best learning experiences. The project goal was $2,500 and $2,580 was raised.

Truly FUNdamentals

Music teacher and performer Mary Ellen Grace created this project to cover initial publishing costs for a set of instructional books and CDs for wind instruments. The funding goal was $1,600 and $1,625 was raised.