One of the companies that I work with sent me a $100 gift card for DonorsChoose.org as a Christmas gift. I had not heard of the website before, but the concept seemed simple enough. Teachers submit projects and then people can donate money to fund them. The company does some validation to ensure that the projects are legitimate. When it is funded they then order the supplies and ship it to the teacher.
The process sounds good and it actually works quite well. I chose to donate the whole $100 to a teacher from a low-income school (most of them are) who wanted to buy flash cards for her fourth grade students. There was only a couple of projects from my city, so I didn’t pay much attention to the details.
As a donor, I was impressed by the process. I received an update after the project was fully funded and a thank you email from the teacher. I also received access to a report of where the money went. And that is where I am less impressed.
The teacher requested 50 sets of multiplication flash cards so that her students could take them home and practice, etc. The company priced those at $6.99 per set for a total of almost $350 worth of flash cards. They then add 10% for shipping, 4% for sales tax, 2.5% for payment processing, about 5% for a thank you package, and 15% for optional fulfilment labor. A total of $500 for 50 sets of flash cards seems a bit steep.
I then looked on Amazon and found the same basic flash cards brand new for $1.63 each with free shipping -a total of $81.50 or less than one sixth off the $500 that DonorsChoose needed for it. I understand that they have some overhead, but that seems pretty ridiculous.