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Classified Web Page Raises Money for Schools

From time to time, Education World updates and reposts a previously published article that we think might be of interest to administrators. Perhaps this article might lead you to develop on your school Web site a "classified section" where you can advertise items donated to the school; any money collected would be used to fund student activities. We hope you find this recently updated article to be of value.

A bake and yard sale veteran, Falmouth, Maine, resident Carolyn Gillis decided to take school fundraising to a higher level. She founded, Classroom Classifieds, a free Web site that generates money for schools from items that community members sell. Included: A description of how the Classroom Classified system works.

After years as a dedicated fundraiser for the Falmouth (Maine) Public Schools, Carolyn Gillis decided she needed to think bigger than bake sales and yard sales.

That's why Gillis launched Classroom Classifieds, a virtual yard sale. Community members list items they want to sell and the asking price, and sellers agree to donate a percentage of the sale price to the Falmouth Education Foundation, a community organization that raises money for its schools.

ClassroomClassifieds.com is now available to school groups for a small annual fee of $20. Whole schools and districts can register too. Sell all types of items online. Sellers donate 1-100% of the proceeds directly to your school.

Cars, houses, vacations, theater tickets, boats, services, and even animals have gone up for sale, so far, and interest continues to grow.

"I may be dreaming but, it seems to me, in an average town each family could easily make an average of $300 for the schools in 12 months without feeling it," Gillis told Education World. "So a town that has 2,000 families participating could bring in $600,000 without feeling it if everyone was active and excited about it."

FROM PAPER TO WEB

In 1998, Gillis started raising money for the education foundation with a free classified-ad newsletter. She started that newsletter out of her concern for the effects of shrinking budgets on the schools. The newsletter, though, became very labor intensive. She learned Web design while getting her business degree and decided the Internet would be a better venue.

"I did fundraising for my kids' schools for years. I did yard sales and bake sales in the rain, and it just seemed very inefficient," Gillis said. "This is a fresh and creative approach to school fundraising -- selling items people no longer need."

The ads are free, she does not receive a commission for sales, and she does not charge the Falmouth school system anything to run the Web site. Sellers are on the honor system to donate a percentage of the money they make.

For example, Classroom Classifieds recently received an ad for a 1998 Ford Expedition, selling for $9,000. The seller has agreed to donate 10 percent of the sale price, or $900, to the Falmouth Education Foundation.

"I like the idea," said Debbie Johnson, principal of the Lunt School, one of two elementary schools in Falmouth. "If people are buying things to donate money to the schools, that's great."

SPREADING THE WORD

As word about Classroom Classifieds has spread, Gillis is hearing from other school districts in the U.S. that are eager to try it themselves. Now she is overseeing a classified Web site for the Westbrook, Maine, school system. Gillis charges other districts a small fee to run their Web sites, but she is hoping to recruit sponsors so she won't have to charge the schools any money. "I'll keep doing it as long as I can pay the bills," she said.

To attract customers, Gillis is preparing displays for the education foundation conventions in California, Florida, and Ohio.

She also is considering developing similar classified Web sites for charities and non-profit organizations to raise money.

Gillis said she is excited about the potential of Web classifieds, adding who knows how much money could be generated "if people all went home and dug around and really got creative and in the right mindset -- like donating 100 percent of the sale to the school. The potential is unlimited and in the hands of the community."

Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Education World®
Copyright © 2007 Education World

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