Monday, April 24, 2006


The last few days I've been in somewhat of an edublogging dry spell, with not much to write about in the way of my own experiences. Sure, I can and do link to other stories, but for the most part I get the most satisfaction--and apparently engage my readers the most--when I do my own postings. But what to write about?

And just now, mere moments ago actually, the following dropped right into my hands. I received the following email, and I'll post it in full now:

Dear Darren,

I�m writing to you because I can tell from reading Right on the Right Coast that you care about education and I�m hoping that you might be interested in a new project that DonorsChoose is launching today for blogs.

At DonorsChoose, teachers submit ideas for materials or experiences that their students need to learn. Individuals can search for projects that speak to them, and then make those classroom dreams a reality. We think it�s an innovative new model for citizen philanthropy. (We also keep showing up in �Web 2.0� lists, although we�re still not sure what that

Today, we�re asking you to help improve the education of children in our public schools. Our new Blogger Challenge allows you to choose from a variety of projects and ask for Right on the Right Coast readers� help to fund them.

To learn more, please visit

In our beta test, the readers of one blog, Tomato Nation, raised more than $30,000 for New York City public schools � you can see the projects they funded at But don�t let that overwhelm you � on my own blog, Ishbadiddle, I managed to raise $500 from my readers, which fully funded a middle-school literacyproject and bought tadpoles for first graders in Brooklyn.

No amount is too small (or too large): projects awaiting funding right now range from $147 for a set of dictionaries in San Francisco to $8,578 for a new playground field in South Carolina. No matter what you the readers of Right on the Right Coast can contribute, I hope you�ll consider participating. And I�d love hear your thoughts and feedback about how we can best involve bloggers like you in this new campaign.

Thanks so much,

Mike Everett-Lane
Blogger In Chief, DonorsChoose

P.S. As our way of saying �thank you� for joining the Blogger Challenge, we�ll give you a DonorsChoose gift certificate worth 10% of the value of each completed challenge. To see classroom projects that your readers might be interested in supporting, visit (emphasis mine--Darren)


I don't know why all the apostrophes showed up as question marks, but that's a small point. But getting my blog's name wrong??? Unbelievable!

Here are the first few sentences on their web site:

DonorsChoose is a simple way to provide students in need with resources that our public schools often lack. At this not-for-profit web site, teachers submit project proposals for materials or experiences their students need to learn.

We're calling all bloggers to help us raise funds for these projects. You can create a DonorsChoose “Challenge.” Pick the the classroom needs that speak to you. Your readers will be able to fulfill them. And kids will get great educational experiences.

Doesn't sound so bad.

Here's what I can't quite determine: is this a worthwhile project in which my readers and I can participate, or is this a cynical ploy that bribes me to whore out my blog for what might be good purposes? Or might it be a little of both?

I've intentionally stayed away from ads on this site. This is not a commercial site; I have no thoughts of making money here. I post as a labor of love; this is truly something I enjoy doing. I don't recall that I've ever solicited money for any organization or cause, and I certainly haven't done so for myself. It's not that I object to making a buck--I heart capitalism! But there's a time and a place for everything, and I've chosen this time and place for mental gymnastics, not for profit.

Am I being too rigid? Might the flavor of Right On The Left Coast change if a profit motive were involved rather than my own intrinsic motivation?

I appreciate any insight you're willing to provide in the comments.


DonorsChoose said...

As for getting your blog's name wrong -- all I can say is, whoops! Sorry. At least I didn't call you "Left on the Left Coast"....

Now is this a worthwhile project, a cynical ploy, or both? My honest answer is: both. We're trying to reach out to bloggers and ask them to market DonorsChoose on our behalf. (I think it's a worthwhile cause, but then again, I work there.) So yes, we're paying bloggers a marketing fee in the form of a DonorsChoose gift certificate. But it all ends up in classrooms eventually.

Thanks, and sorry again about the mistake.

Chandler said...

I say why not. There is a first for everything, and I think that if you do it right, it will not appear to be 'whoring' your blog. Im sure everyone who visits your blog knows your beliefs well enough that they are not going to judge you or misjudge you for that matter(not that you let others' negative opinions affect you). Your call, but I think you have a good attitute toward it.

ms. frizzle said...

I am extremely picky about what I will post on my blog, especially when people email me telling me I should promote this, that, or the next thing. But this one seemed different (not least because I have written DonorsChoose grants myself in years past, and there's nothing else like it when you need funding for a small but creative project). Note that you're not actually getting any money - you're getting a gift certificate that you can then "spend" at DonorsChoose - by donating it to another classroom project! Do whatever you feel comfortable with, but I just wanted to share my opinion as another blogger contacted by DonorsChoose, and as someone who decided to create a challenge.

'Course, you could always just point your readers towards my challenge, LOL!

Darren said...

Ms. Frizzle,

Thanks for correcting my misunderstanding about getting paid.

I like your suggestion as well--if you want to help, check out Ms. Frizzle's challenge!!!

Jack said...

Blogwhoring, eh? Well, I suppose then that my contacting you belongs as part of this thread...

I'm working on a community service project at MIT to run a nationwide contest in which students compete to create funny, creative videos teaching SAT vocabulary at We're giving out a cash prize to the video that receives the most number of votes and free iTunes downloads to students who produce a lot of videos.

The more video submissions we receive, the more helpful we believe the site will be. I am looking to get the word out to teachers and students any way I can. I was wondering if you'd be willing to mention our charity event in one of your posts. I know that is very forward of me. But your blog looks really popular and I can live with kind rejection.

I would be happy to give you more details...