In 2000, Charles Best was a high school history teacher when he launched DonorsChoose as a simple way for anyone to help a classroom in need. Since then, he and his team have inspired 5 million people and partners to give $1.3 billion to fund 2 million classroom requests from teachers across America, turning DonorsChoose into the most trusted platform for giving to public schools.
To get to that scale, Charles made bold asks:
- Inspiring Oprah Winfrey to name DonorsChoose as one of her “ultimate favorite things.”
- Working with Stephen Colbert to fund all the classroom requests in his home state of South Carolina, and using that gift to inspire 50 more celebrities—from Serena Williams to Elon Musk—to fund all the classroom requests in their home towns.
–Sending a cold email to a blockchain entrepreneur asking for $29 million to fund every single classroom request on DonorsChoose, which worked
- Unlocking millions of small donations by developing algorithms that would recommend just the right classroom request to each donor—for example, by matching donors with teachers who share the same last name (which turns out to be even more powerful than geo-targeting).
- Showing companies how they could engage customers, earn media coverage, and build brand equity by supporting public school classrooms through DonorsChoose.
Before telling the stories behind each of those asks, Charles shares how he made one ask that went horribly awry. He goes on to share the principles that have enabled him to get to “yes” and how those principles can be applied by product, marketing, branding, communications, business development, and sales teams.
Finally, Charles gives DonorsChoose gift cards (underwritten by his speaker’s fee) to audience members and makes an ask of them: to choose a classroom dream to bring to life.