02/07/2011 07:16 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Removing the Uncertainty in Donating to Schools: Just Say No to the Bake Sale Cupcake

With budget cuts abounding, teachers are searching for creative ways to make sure their students are getting value in the classroom. Unfortunately teachers are increasingly looking to their own pocketbooks. According to Time it's estimated that California teachers' annual out of pocket expenses in the past 2 years have grown from a few hundred dollars to over $1,500. allows teachers to create their classroom "wish list" online and parents, alumni, and altruistic donors can purchase the items directly in a way that is as easy as shopping on The donations are tax deductible and the items are sent directly to the teacher. There's no muss, no fuss, and when parent teacher night comes around they can see their donations for themselves.

This plays on a very interesting part of behavioral economics that is linked to motivational properties of tangible items. Checks to the general school fund become harder to write for donors because of the ambiguity and uncertainty of where the donation dollars are going. Sponsoring specific items gives them a sense of ownership of furthering children's education and let's them know that the dollars they would have otherwise put in a charitable black box are going to good use on a specific classroom project or item.

Hopefully amid these budget cuts, innovative sites like will inspire higher levels of giving through behavior economics and enable teachers access to the resources they need to educate our future generation!

You can download an example "wish list" below:
Download file