Fundraising is essential to participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition, teams often solicit corporate and academic sponsorship that provides them with money and access to materials needed to effectively demonstrate the ideals of FIRST and its mission. New fundraising techniques and methods come into existence every year, but the basic ones should be the backbone of your fundraising efforts.
Teams often augment such sponsorship with community-based fundraising activities.
- Put someone in charge: You will need an energetic contact person who can do good PR with other students, parents, and teachers and be responsible for collecting money or order forms. They will organize the effort to get the word out about the fundraiser.
- Set a goal: If you’re working toward a specific purchase or event, determine the amount of money you need to accomplish the task. Include every expense you may encounter in your final total.
- List your options: While having a car wash might be an option for bringing in the cash, it’s probably not all that feasible if your rookies are the ones in charge. Make a list of every possible option you would want to look into. Take into account previous experience as well - if last year’s wrapping paper sales flopped, you probably don’t want to give it another go.
- Choose your fundraiser: Take into account the amount of money you need to raise. If you need a large amount of money, a car wash may not be your best option. Put it to a vote, or have the contact person make an informed decision on what will be best for the group. Factors to consider are: number of people available to raise funds, safety (door-to-door is not always an option), and perishablity of product (like candy sales in the summer heat).
- Set a deadline: Having a deadline for the project is important if you’re doing product sales. You will need to have all orders and money collected before you can place a catalog order, or return leftover product in the event of a candy sale.
- Keep people updated: For the duration of the fundraiser, keep the momentum going with regular updates using graphics like a bar graph to chart your success.
- Wrapping it up: Deliver ordered goods (if necessary) and total up your profits. Compare your totals with your goal and determine whether or not there is a need for more fundraising if you fall short, or how to spend your surplus if you’ve met with success.
- Food Sales and Bake Sales - You can buy candies and food items in bulk for cheap and sell them for a profit (i.e. candy bars for 50 cents and sell them for a dollar).
- Car washes - On a Saturday morning or afternoon or before the Friday night football game, get your team together and host a car wash.
- Raffles - Sell tickets at school and outside of school, and at school sporting events. If you need prizes and don’t feel like buying them, ask around at local stores and see if people will donate items. Also, in order to excite more people about the raffle, drawing for little items throughout the course of the raffle (and announcing the winners to the school, i.e. over the intercom) helps to draw interest.
- Silent auctions - A silent auction is you get prizes for people to bid on and have sign up sheets that allow people to place bids on items (don’t forget to set a minimum bid) and, eventually, you close the bidding and the highest bidders get the prize and pay what they bid.
Bag Packing - Students write to a supermarket / shop and ask for permission to pack customers bags for a day. The students then go to the shop, and offer to pack peoples bags, clearly stating that it’s on a voluntary basis. While packing the bags, the students promote FIRST and discuss why they are raising the money.
- NOTE: If anyone is familiar with this and knows exactly how the money would be collected - from people as tips, maybe? - please post here
Penny Wars - A penny war is held between multiple parts of the student body, either by homeroom, grade, club, or other method. Students bring in pennies to be put in their group’s jar. Members of other groups may then attack the jar by putting in money of other denominations (nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, dollar coins, or any folding money). The amount of non-penny currency is then subtracted from the amount of pennies, giving that group’s score (e.g. 25 pennies and 1 dime in a jar = 15 points). The group with the highest score wins, and usually wins some prize such as a pizza party.
flower & bulb sales magazine subscriptions catalog items such as wrapping paper, holiday gifts, books personalized items for your school such as t-shirts, school supplies, car tags, key chains, spirit items Walk-A-Thons
Corporate/Academic Funds Solicitation
- Giving a presentation - The best way to help potential sponsors understand FIRST and what it stands for a little better. A presentation is much more likely to hit home with sponsors than a well-written letter. Potential sponsors receive sponsor requests every day. Be above the rest and give your presentation a little more oomph.
- Organizations likely to sponsor teams - Talk to any organization or business having anything to do with engineering of sorts. You can start with the big companies, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, etc. but don’t feel like its too low to go to the local air conditioning company for money. Remember, donations can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. For example, a printing company can maybe donate free fliers for you to hand out and increase awareness of your team in the area.
- Speak to your school’s PA or to alumni - Alumni and the PA are a great way to fundraise for your team.
- Local businesses - Local businesses are a great not only to get the cash cow flowing but also to increase local PR with your city. Ask any local businesses to help out with fundraisers. For example, work with them by designating a night of the month in which a business will donate a percentage of their profit’s for the day to your team. This is especially useful when dealing with restaurants, hand out flyers and anyone who comes into that place of business will have 10% or 15% taken off their bill and donated to your team.