Crowdfunding Education with DonorsChoose.org: All Things Equal?

ID: 54401 Type: Full Paper
  1. Matthew Koehler and Michael Lachney, Michigan State University, United States

Thursday, March 21 10:45 AM-11:15 AM Location: Celebrity 1

Presider: Erik Braun, Northwestern State University of Louisiana, United States

Abstract: Crowdfunding approaches are often framed in democratizing and revolutionary terms by allowing anyone to use social media to facilitate the “crowd” to fund small but important projects. We explore if DonorsChoose, as the most prominent educational crowdfunding platform, offers a equitable playing-field when it comes to school need. Specifically, we examined all 1,110,017 DonorsChoose projects proposed between 01/01/2013 and 05/01/2018 to see if the poverty level of the applicant schools was associated with difference in the types, amount, and success of projects. We found that high-poverty schools were more likely to be funded but received less funding per project. We also found that high-poverty schools were more likely to ask for basic supplies while low-poverty schools were more likely to ask for technology resources. We examine how crowdfunding might be discussed, promoted, and critiqued with and by teachers in light of findings that DonorsChoose fostered both equitable and inequitable funding patterns.

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