Creative Fundraising Options

I’m working with a brand new team this year in 2855. The team is effectively a second year team after folding from 2020 to 2022. The team has very little money at this moment and we want to make the obvious switch to swerve drive and rev motors but that is super expensive. We have gone through the essentials of fundraising like making a call list and such. I’d just like to know if anyone has a super unique or creative fundraising options that they have seen that my team could use. No bad ideas with this one, my team is looking for all the money that they can get and even if an idea only gets a little bit of money it would still be great to know.

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Have you filled out grants like the Haas one? Those are some good sources of money our team gets. Look for ones in your area too.

We made about $1700 from a team garage sale – not bad for a weekend’s effort.

Years back, my previous team (703 - Phoenix) did a fundraiser with a small local company that involved selling bulk bird seed of all things (cause, you know, a Phoenix is a bird, or something).
I don’t remember what we ever made off of the program (though we made a decent percentage from each sale), but the company was excited to work with us on what they considered to be a bit of an unconventional sales opportunity. :sweat_smile:

My advice would be, when a pinch, don’t be scared to try unconventional things like this.

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My team often does camps etc. like a java camp or STEM Camp where we charge money for teaching elementary/middle school kids. It is a fair bit of effort but if you advertise enough and execute well, you can raise a lot of money.
Start with deciding on a topic and camp dates and times. Then you can start advertising and working on smaller logistics.
We normally have it week-long with 3-5 hour session each day, or something similar.

  1. We ask parents and mentors submit requests to their companies (Often open internally)
  2. We ask each student write 5 letters to friends & family (Engineer Aunts, Your orthodontist, Grandma) Even a small team $20 x 5 letters x 25 students= $2500
  3. Business Outreach to engineering and manufacturing companies in your area. Look on job posting sites for companies hiring Mechanical or Electrical engineers or programmers. Try and just get in the door to do a presentation about FIRST and your team, demo the robot. Even if all you get is a chance to present and a tour of a cool factory it is a great experience. Work to build a relationship that can lead to financial support.
  4. Alumni outreach. We are hoping to get $37.86 (our team number) from as many alumni as possible and hear what everyone is up to.
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If you haven’t already done so, do a search on CD using terms like “fundraising” and “sponsorship”.

The fundraising techniques don’t have to be unique or creative to get the results you need. What it requires is that your team members put in sufficient time and effort. Your team is located in a large urban area so there should be many fundraising opportunities.

Review your call list and look at what types of targets are on the list. Look at the types of names are on the sponsor lists of other teams to see if they have types of sponsors that are not on your list. Jim mentioned writing to the orthodontists that each team member uses. They could also write to their family doctors, optometrists, dentists, accountants using the same letter template. It is probably easier to do more of the same thing than to learn to do more types of things.

It would be good to look at the companies on your list and determine the probability of being able to reach someone with the authority to give you money.

Where I am located, there are the headquarters of many very large oil and gas companies. Unless one has internal contacts, it will be difficult to navigate the bureaucracies to reach those people. They also have many operations centers in the small towns throughout this state and others where no one in that building has that authority.

There are also many small and medium sized companies in the same industry where it would be easier to reach the persons who have the authority to give you money. In some instances, their name is on the outside of the building.

We are considering running STEM camps as a fundraising vehicle since it appears that there is a high level of interest in STEM in the area we are in. It sounds like your camps are 15-25 hours in total. Do you mind sharing how much your team is charging each attendee?

We do fundraising for the last couple of years and run 1 week with 2 sessions of roughly 3 hours. for 20 students each session it brings in a total of nearly $10k. This is typically a summer camp option but could be adjusted to a vacation week through the school year. We do this with FLL level!

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Get in touch with your administration and see if they have any money left in their activity fund or sports budget to help you out. (if you do/promise to do community outreach and stuff for the school, it can help)

We did a car wash the past two years and it was pretty effective, raised about 1k each time.

We also run a badminton tournament which also raised about 1k. We charged people to sign up, and gave a prize to the winners

We recommend doing cold calls to companies and you should give everyone a script so they know what to say, even if they are new to the team, but also make sure there is room for them to add detail and not sound like a robot.

I recommend just doing stuff. Try things out, see what works and what doesn’t. Every opportunity is different based on your community and your team, so see what works for you.