Jul 09, 2017

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks To Charles Best, Founder of DonorsChoose.org

Today, you will hear from an amazing social entrepreneur, Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org. Ask any teacher about his organization and you will see their eyes light up and inevitably hear these words “I love DonorsChoose.org” Why? They have channeled hundreds of millions of dollars from citizen-philanthropists to support teacher projects in classrooms throughout the country. He was crowdfunding for public schools long before it became “a thing.” Here are some examples of financial literacy projects currently up on their site and how DonorsChoose.org brought financial education to over a thousand classrooms this spring.

What has impressed me about Charles over the years has been his laser focus on impact (here is how his organization measures it), his management prowess at scaling DonorsChoose.org and how he has created a mission-driven organization enabling him to build an A+ team. If you haven’t used DonorsChoose.org, you definitely should, and if you have used them, you will enjoy hearing the origin story while also getting some tips on how to make your next project a success. Thank you Charles for creating such an amazing organization that is making such a difference!


  • 0:00~2:26 – Introduction
  • 2:26~3:00 – What is DonorsChoose.org?
  • 3:00~4:26 – How did DonorsChoose.org start?
  • 4:26~6:22 – First project funded
  • 6:22~7:31 – How he motivated early donors to give to the cause
  • 7:31~9:20 – Leaving the classroom to work on DonorsChoose.org full-time
  • 9:20~10:32 – His appearance on Oprah
  • 10:32~13:37 – Building a team early on
  • 13:37~20:07 – Best strategic decisions he has made
  • 20:07~20:38 – Usage in low income communities
  • 20:38~22:59 – Biggest organizational challenges
  • 22:59~23:17 – A word from our sponsor, Next Gen Personal Finance
  • 23:17~25:29 – Minimum donation and keys to a successful project on DonorsChoose
  • 25:29~29:28 – Favorite projects
  • 29:28~32:16 – Needs in public school classrooms
  • 32:16~33:53 – How he measures impact; superstar teachers on his platform
  • 33:53~38:10 – Stephen Colbert and DonorsChoose.org
  • 38:10~40:19 – Advocacy role
  • 43:02~49:05 – How his management style has evolved over time
  • 49:05~  Conclusion


Notable Quote:

  • “We think that we can channel one special expression of teacher voice around the resources that teachers most need, the topics that are on their minds, the activities they think that are most effective, and by surfacing that, we hope that we can influence education.”

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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