So I've been spamming all my social networking outlets with links to the Donor's Choose: Bet Red (Tomato Nation) contest. The couple of people who have responded to my links seemed confused as to what I was talking about, so here's some further explanation. And another shameless plug.
First of all: Donors Choose. It's one of my favorite charities, along with Kiva. With Donors Choose, teachers post funding requests for a specific need their school or classroom has. They outline all of the costs, explain why they need what they are asking for, and submit it to the website. Donors can browse all of these projects and chose to donate to whatever project they want. Like Kiva, it puts the donor in (almost) direct contact with the recipient. It's all fairly anonymous, for safety reasons, but you - the donor - have complete control over where your money goes. It's a lot of fun. You get to help buy band instruments, or help beef up the sci-fi section of a library, or buy math games, or even an air conditioner for a classroom in Texas. (Could you imagine going to school in Texas without an air conditioner?) There's a lot of variety. Browse through the projects, I'm sure you'll easily find something that resonates with you.
So what is Tomato Nation? Tomato Nation is a blog I like to read that encourages its readers to donate to Donors Choose during the month of October. You can read more about it here. "Bet Red" is their slogan for 2009. It's great if you donate at all, but donating through Tomato Nation's contest page has definite advantages. For example, earlier today, Sars (the tomatonation blogger), informed her readers that a particular donor was willing to offer a matching donation once our total donations reached $90K. At the time, we were at $83,106. If we met the goal by Friday, the match would be $4K. By Thursday, $6K. If we got to $90K by Wednesday at midnight, they'd donate $8K. At that point, I posted links on facebook and twitter, hoping some people might chip in a few dollars, if they could. (Jill did! Thanks Jill!) Turns out, we got to $90K before midnight TODAY. With 25 hours to spare! I think that's pretty awesome. Besides matching donations, Sars offers lots of fun mini-prizes along the way. Check her site regularly for more details on those.
So while the urgency for this particular deadline is gone, I still think it's a great charity and a great contest. You can search by state and donate locally, or search by subject matter and donate according to your passion. Excited About Encyclopedias! was the project where I chose to contribute. It's in Utah, and it's in the language/literacy category... both of which are important to me. Their goal is not yet met, so if you want to donate, this would be a great place to do so. I'd really love to see them get what they need, and the finish line for that particular project is within reach. And if you can donate through the Tomato Nation "Bet Red" link, that would be even better! (If you want to pick another project, through Tomato Nation, you can use this spreadsheet to sort by state and subject. And if you want nothing to do with Tomato Nation at all, but still want to donate, that's fine too... use this link.)
If you have questions about any of this, check out one of the billion links I put in the post, or just ask me in the comments. :)