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Can my school district use online fundraising sites such as gofundme.com and donorschoose.org?
While these websites do present schools with a new way to raise additional money for educating students, any fundraising through these websites should follow established district policies and procedures. You may have policy in section D or IGDF regarding fundraising and you don’t need a separate policy specifically for online fundraising. You may want to develop specific internal procedures to avoid some of the common problems. Generally, all fundraising must be approved by the building administrator or the superintendent. Fundraising via the internet would be no different.
There are some additional concerns that arise from the use of internet fundraising:
• These fundraising campaigns should be approved prior to starting.
• The money should go to the district, not to the individual teacher. Any items purchased with the funds received should be district property and subject to inventory procedures. You should look at current procedures for allocation of money or products received via fundraising efforts.
• How much of the money is kept by the site? Some sites take a certain amount up front, then a percentage of everything else. You want to look carefully and determine if the ease of the fundraiser justifies not getting 100% of the money.
• What happens if the entire goal amount is raised? Some sites require you to set a goal amount and if the goal is not reached, you don’t receive any money. Again, do your research so that you know what to expect.
• If teachers are receiving the money or items directly, there could be ethics issues. Public employees are prohibited from using their position to obtain financial gain or avoidance of financial detriment and there are limits on the acceptance of gifts.
• You want to be very careful using student names or pictures in all materials to avoid FERPA violations.
• You want to be aware of equity between classrooms and schools. What happens if one classroom or school receives money, but another does not? How will parents react when money that they thought was going to their child’s classroom but is instead given to another classroom or school? Do resources go with the teacher if they are transferred?
• Any technology purchased needs to fit into the current technology plan for the district.