Many teachers–especially those in high-poverty communities–lack the classroom resources they need to teach and inspire our next generation of leaders. On the not-for-profit website DonorsChoose.org, teachers can create projects to request the materials they need, and donors can fund the projects that inspire them. To date, DonorsChoose.org has raised more than $500 million for teachers and funded more than 900,000 projects.
In March 2016, DonorsChoose.org and Group Gordon, along with more than 50 influential celebrities, philanthropists, and business leaders, partnered on a campaign challenging donors everywhere to support a classroom in need and make it the #BestSchoolDay for teachers and students in their communities.
The campaign was designed to make a huge, one-day splash that would both produce a ripple effect of immediate action and leave in its wake a significant tail of engagement over subsequent days and weeks. Success depended on an element of surprise – a big one – that would help to create national news value and social media buzz.
To achieve the splash, each of the 50+ celebrity funders committed to “flash funding” all of the classroom projects on DonorsChoose.org in their home communities, cities, or states – more than $14 million in contributions. All of these commitments were kept under wraps until the simultaneous reveal on CBS This Morning on the morning of #BestSchoolDay. That meant thousands of teachers and tens of thousands of students across the country all found out their projects were funded at the same time.
The secret flash funding by celebrity partners was truly exciting in and of itself. But, it was also important that this act of mass generosity inspire citizen donors to act by funding classroom projects. The goal going into #BestSchoolDay was to secure funding for 20,000 projects. To put this mission front and center, the celebrity funders created cellphone videos in which they’d share the story of one of their own “best school days” from childhood, explain why they were flash funding a certain community, and – most importantly – ask citizen donors to take part. The more-than-30 videos, along with teacher profiles and bylined articles from funders, provided fuel for a multi-pronged social rollout to complement national press outreach, with partners also sharing content developed for the campaign.
After the campaign kicked off on CBS This Morning, a digital hub went live on HuffPost’s front page, helping to drive traffic to DonorsChoose.org and its social channels. The site featured #BestSchoolDay content, including a map of funded areas, a funded project counter, articles about teachers with DonorsChoose.org projects, and bylined content from funders, as well as a mashup produced by HuffPost of several of the celebrity funder videos to help announce the launch. Features in Fast Company, the Associated Press, and other top-tier national and international outlets, along with local coverage in funded communities across the country, drove more than 200 stories.
#BestSchoolDay also trended on Twitter and Facebook, with more than 30,000 #BestSchoolDay posts reaching 200 million people. #BestSchoolDay videos were viewed more than 100,000 times. The one-day media frenzy concluded with a segment on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, which featured several celebrity funders.
Illustrating the remarkable power of storytelling to mobilize public awareness, support, and action for an important cause at the local, national, and international levels, #BestSchoolDay was a truly special effort that united a diverse spectrum of people in support of DonorsChoose.org’s mission. The campaign surpassed all original goals, raising $16.8 million for classrooms nationwide from more than 33,000 individual donors, making it the single biggest day of funding in DonorsChoose.org history
The #BestSchoolDay campaign not only gave teachers and students across the country one amazing day to remember but also inspired citizen donors to continue supporting projects so that every day is the #BestSchoolDay.