The Vine: July 18, 2012
I'm so excited to finally have a Vine question! This seemed perfectly suited for you due to your work with Donors Choose and apparent love of teachers in general.
I graduated from college nearly a decade ago. Since then, I've bounced around down many career paths but haven't found that one thing that makes me happy. Last year, I worked as a freelance writer and supplemented my income by substitute teaching. Sars, I loved it. Teaching is something that has always been in the back of my mind, but I was never confident enough to do. I guess it took having my own child to actually believe that students would take me seriously as an authority figure. I subbed in both high school and middle schools, thinking I would gravitate toward high school, since that's where I had the best time as a student. However, it was actually middle school that I fell in love with. I wanted to keep subbing, but I really, really missed health insurance. A full-time marketing job came up within my county government, so I took that, rationalizing that I'm still giving back to my community, just in a more indirect way.
It's a year later, and I'm more sure than I've ever been that I want to be a teacher. Luckily, my county offers a "career-switcher" program for people just like me. Here's where the conflict arises. When all is said and done, going through the program is going to cost me about $4,000. Since it's a fast-track non-degree-earning program, it's not eligible for financial aid. My options are, a) pay up front or b) secure a bank loan. Option A is out, as I don't have $4,000 just lying around. Option B is dicey, considering that my career switching, constant moves and irresponsible twenties have left me with a not-so-stellar credit score. Plus, taking on another monthly bill makes me a little nervous, considering that I'm a single mom and I'm already going to be taking a pay cut when this whole thing goes through. My family also doesn't have the money to loan me either, so that's out.
Today, though, I thought of a third option: a fundraiser. This is where I need you and your wonderful readers. Would starting an Indiegogo (or similar) campaign so I can become a teacher be the tackiest thing in the world? Yes, we need more teachers, but it's not like I'm going to be Dangerous Minds-ing all over the place. I would be teaching in a wealthy suburb. Is this something people would want to donate a few bucks to, or would the general reaction be, "Stop being such a loser and figure out another plan"? If it's the latter, do you have another idea? Because I'd love to hear it, since I need to start taking qualification tests this summer.
Thanks for all your help!
It's expensive to be so underpaid
It's all in the presentation. Paging through Indiegogo can definitely make you feel like a selfish ass for asking for help, because some of the projects just break your heart into a thousand sharp pieces — people raising money for a friend's son's chemo, or trying to get a new roof for a cousin whose spouse died suddenly last year. And you're like, you know what, I'm good, never mind, in fact please take this ten bucks I'll just have Post-Its for lunch oh God I'm so unworthy.
But it's not an either/or thing; the neat thing about Indiegogo and Kickstarter is that there's plenty of room for every kind of project — "my dog needs cataract surgery"-type things, sure, but also Project Runway's Viktor is raising money for a Fashion Week line, someone else is doing a study of misandry in videogame media, and the "Stinky Cheese playing cards" project ("whey fun") (hee!) has just four days to go.
I've gotten a number of these requests from friends and acquaintances. I've also seen them used as part of wedding registries, where you buy a specific chunk of honeymoon activity (not…that one) or whatever, and I don't remember having thought, "Well, I never." I mean, not that it's not possible to do it tackily, but in your case, unless you try to get peeps to pay for a designer laptop case and some new kicks as part of the project, or you abuse social-media contacts or bump it back into your timeline every two hours and annoy everyone you know, it can't hurt to ask. Sure, a few will think it's not their problem, and of course, technically, it isn't, and that's fine. And a few others might think it's gauche, and that's valid. For me, it's fine. I may not give to every specific thing, but in general, we just live in a different world where this is a thing people do/use to make their albums or replace their stolen equipment or get their awesome vegan bodegae off the ground, because the internet and social media dominate to a degree they haven't before, and because the economy is still terrible, and people have to get creative to get by.
I would explain what you just explained to me, as pithily but also humorously as you can — including the part where you worry that it's Not Done. Try to think of a cute/appealing unifying theme, and some rewards that you can give to backers that go with that theme. Like, I might call mine "Seed Money" (tomatoes, seeds, ha ha? Don't get up, I'll let myself out) and then I'd give away seed packets or seedlings or Robert Plant posters (geddit? Okay, well, thanks for coming by). Emphasize that it's not a lot of money and it's not a recurring expense — you just need a little push, so that you in turn can become that person who gives the push to kids who need it. And then perhaps a photo of a rueful kitten. Not sad! Just…kinda down. Little heart-strings/purse-strings kind of a thing. Not telling you what to do; just saying.
And people might not donate, but then again, they might. You never know who's going to think it's ballsy that you even asked (or feel sorry for the kitten) and drop a few hundo on you. You should have a Plan B for if it doesn't work out, because sometimes it doesn't, but you might as well find out one way or the other and know you tried everything. Good luck! If you do it, drop by the comments with a link.
Tags: etiquette rando workplace