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School turns to social media for fundraising

School turns to social media for fundraising
October 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
In this age of budget cuts, school fundraising is an ongoing challenge for parents and the community. But now there's a new tool that matches social media with need.

Have you heard of crowd funding? It is the latest in fundraising. It leverages social media and communities to get a task done. In San Francisco, a local elementary school is using the technique to raise money after an unexpected financial shortfall.

Like many public schools, there are lessons to be learned about money at Sunnyside Elementary in San Francisco. Navigating the world of money is being learned in classrooms and downstairs in the principal's office, where state money came in $40,000 less than expected.

"We had an unexpected funding shortfall relative to what we had anticipated," Principal John Simard said. "I reached out to our school community for problem solving on how we could account for that. One of the best ideas that come out of that was using GoFundMe."

Gofundme.com is a fundraising website. Those looking for donations, in this instance Sunnyside Elementary, put up a webpage with pictures and text and make their case for donations. Sunnyside was looking at losing a classroom instructor.

"We started about a month ago and we have been doing great; we didn't expect to get this far so quickly," Sunnyside PTA spokesperson Rhiana Maidenberg said.

The school has raised $34,179 of the $40,000 needed.

The site takes a 5 percent cut of the take; the rest of the money goes to the school.

So who's donating? Parents, grandparents, local businesses, even the staff.

"We have had a few people donate that we don't know who they are," Maidenberg said. "We will be sure to send them a thank you letters. I have their email addresses."

"A social media fundraising site like Gofundme.com it can be linked up with other social media like Facebook and word about it can get around in different ways and we can have opportunities for people who are less connected with the school to help us in our efforts as well," Simard said.

The website has become a touchstone for the school community and others who just want to help out

"What I see when I look at this is how a community can get together, and we can help," Maidenberg said. "We have budget shortfalls. California has problems with funding the public schools but as a community as parents we can make sure out schools have what we need."

There are also other websites that offer similar services.

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