Big Fundraising Ideas, Please Help! :)

Hey Everyone!

Our team in the past has had great experiences hosting FLL tournaments and Jr. FLL exhibitions, but have been reliant on them as our main sources of income other than sending out donation letters and obtaining sponsors. We’ve had a little trouble going into new fundraisers each year in making them really worth it, so please let me know what has worked for your team! If you can be as specific as possible (names, websites, etc.) that would be wonderful!

Thank you all,

How big is the city you are in? That has a large effect on what works and doesn’t.

For example, a team in a small town would probably have more success with multiple small community fundraiser(Kiwanis, rotary,.etc)

Our team goes for the “no stone left unturned” fundraising philosophy.

Outside of our main and very generous sponsor, Harris, we have a major patron drive (which is not mailing out letters but visiting businesses in person - an important factor to its continued success), as well as smaller fundraisers such as car washes, Uno Pizza nights, Applebee’s Pancake Breakfasts, and many more.

Our patron drive raises between $8000 to $18,000 a year, as well as provides us about 200 contacts in the community which gives us a good fan base for support at events, and a continual source of new places to demonstrate the robot and talk about FIRST. Most if not all of the details are on our website.

Also, are you associated with a school upon which you can draw participants? We have been limited by the fact we are not in a school, so events like spaghetti dinners, etc., are not feasible as it is too hard to sell tickets. So we have concentrated on events that draw people outside of their interest in helping the team.

We have sponsored 5K races, which can attract a lot of the “serious” runners who do a race every weekend. We went through a local group to make the race an “official” 5K (runners know what this means), but that limited us to making a profit on ticket sales only after the first 80-100 runners. You can get an unlimited amount of money through sponsorship though - many places will pay to sponsor a 5K that wouldn’t sponsor a team.

Basket bingos are big in this area and we held one last year with mixed results. Your costs are mainly the Longaberger basket prizes and bingo supplies - about $1000 upfront. But these events have a big, broad fan base and you can attract 150-200 people easily. (Unless, as happened with us, the paper didn’t run the ads and a nor-easter blows in the day of the event.)

Sales of items like candy, pizzas, can raise a lot of money if you sell a lot, but you only get a small profit for each item sold. We have sold Xmas wreaths, which have a profit close to 50% if you buy them by the case. We are considering poinsettias this year.

Other people can tell you about spaghetti dinners and pancake breakfast type fundraisers. Again, we haven’t considered this since we would sell tickets mainly to families and close friends, but if you have a large target audience that will buy tickets, this has good potential.

Some advice here:

Also Hexbug’s (if no one else in your area is selling them) have been successful for many groups. See banner at the top of this page.

Ignoring (and then discarding a letter) - even a very well-written one from a worthy cause - is far too easy.

Ignoring a couple of well-spoken robotics kids in your lobby is somewhat more difficult. Particularly if they are from a worthy cause…

Thank you everyone! For those of you asking… yes, we are tied to our school, and we are from a very small community. Our high school contains students from two tiny towns that together are still small. The student body for all four grades is roughly 1,000.

I suggest giving demonstrations at local community groups, they might not give much but if you meet with lots of them it adds up quick. This is how my team does the majority of our funraising, kiwanis, community trust, rotary, and things like that are very good to have supporting you.