One of the best ways to get sponsorships is to go through the parents. We usually hold parent meetings multiple times per year. These are mainly to inform parents why their students don’t want to come home after school, and shows all the benefits of the FIRST program. Usually at the first one we just mention getting their companies to sponsor us. You don’t want to force it on them, but definitely put it in their mind that robots aren’t free, and anything they may be able to contribute will help. Once they see what the club does for the students, and what goes into making a robot, there’s a good chance they’ll be interested in helping out. For example, one of our students a few years ago had a parent who worked for Altice(the cable company). He came to one of our meetings, saw what we did, and he went and asked his company if they’d be willing to help. They were able to donate some money, but also sent the parent back to be one of our team’s official mentors. Basically, just having that foot in the door to start out will definitely boost the companies likeliness of sponsoring.
Regardless of how many relationships you have with a company, they’re probably going to want a better understanding of what their money will be going towards, and what else they’ll get out of it besides helping kids. This is where having a good sponsorship letter/packet comes in handy. 1293 Sample Request to Sponsor Letter.pdf (1.3 MB) This is a sample letter from some other team that I found in an old binder a little while ago. It has different levels/tiers to their sponsorship, and each comes with their own perks. Obviously the dollar amounts are up to you and your team, but giving companies publicity by way of logos on websites and shirts is a great way to convince them to support you. You’ll also probably want separate tiers for corporate and local sponsors, since $500 for a mom and pop paint store is a lot more meaningful than $500 for companies as large as Lockheed Martin.
Yes, especially if it’s a smaller business. For my team, we went to a local paint store and just explained to the owner/manager what we do as a team, and they gladly were able to donate some paint for us, and gave us discounts. Obviously paint isn’t the most necessary thing for a robot, but not having to pay for it allowed us to use that money elsewhere while still being able to use some creativity for signs and other projects.
It definitely helps, but it’s not always necessary. Depending on the business, having an adult there might help them realize that you’re not just some high schooler trying to scam them out of money/products.
They can be, but you have to look into them to see how much you can actually profit. For example, an Applebees flapjack fundraiser requires a down payment of I believe $100. If you know that you’re only going to be selling $150 worth of tickets, then it may not be worth it for your team. We have done many of the Flapjack Fundraisers, and one way we try to boost profits is to have raffles at the events. That’s another place where parents could get involved.
Also, another way of raising money is simply a GoFundMe. Getting parents to share it on Facebook and stuff like that will definitely earn you a bit of extra money.