Fundraising ideas?

My team, 1159, is running out of money and we need fundraising ideas. We already sell World’s Finest Chocolate and we are going to have an e-waste fundraiser next month. Do you have any other ideas for us? What do your teams do to make money?

Also, grants are mostly out of the picture for us because our school doesn’t let us apply for grants ourselves.

We sell a calendar every year - the kids get local businesses to donate prizes for every day on the calendar and then we sell it for $10. We draw one name every day for the month and that person wins that day’s prize. This year, we’re selling in January for February.

There’s a whole boatload of ideas here, though.

Idk what to tell you this year, but at the competition last year we tried talking to several representatives that, after further discussion, ended up helping us out this year.
Also tell the members to ask their parents about sponsorships from work. For example, my dad works at Albemarle, so we’re getting $500 from that and all he has to do is be in the room with us for x number of hours. Similar deal with another parent at Exon

We are in the same boat with not enough money. But part of the problem is lack of motivation in some of our team members to do any fundraising. We have done our first eer spirit wear, and we are slowly making headway. But part of our issue is also that our team sorta splinters after season is over. Competition, and everyone disappears. I have pushed team dinners and such, and been told “thats too much work” by some team members.

We have been very successful doing what we call “can shakers”. We contact local stores and ask if we can do a fundraiser outside their front door. We set up a table with FIRST and team literature, a few baked goods, and a robot. The students have two big buckets and when people come out of the stores they ask them for donations. We usually make about $500 at each of these events. They are easy and a great way to also spread FIRST in the community as the robot creates a lot of interest, with the students answering all kinds of questions. We have even had a few companies sponsor us based off of first finding out about the robotics program from these events.

Some ideas my team tried was:

  • Bottle Drive
  • Car Wash
  • Silent Auction
  • Pie Sales

By far Bottle Drives and Carwashes raised the most money though!

We have had a 'no-show" ball where we send invitations out to family and friends (and local merchants) asking them to buy tickets but giving them the top ten reasons they dont want to actually attend a ball

We have “PIGGED” houses. Fill friends yards with pigs on rockets and collected a fee to retrieve them (and a larger fee if they want to send them to someone elses house)

Right now we are doing “lose your bacon or lose your bucks” Every week we check in (honor system) if you haven’t lost weight, inches or a clothing size you owe the team $2. (I have paid in every week)

We have done a viral video campaign which you can still watch on Youtube. We made silly videos and posted them and then asked people to donate to the pay pal account on our website.

We also have a marketing packet that we take to businesses in the area asking if they would like to be mentors or donate money.

We have set up freeze tag with VEX robots in the mall and charged a buck for 5 minutes of drive time.

We hosted 2 summer camps this year and made almost 5000.00

Get creative. Think outside the box. Do something silly. Don’t discount any business. I know of teams who have been sponsored by hair salons and car washes.

Do a presentation to the Kiiwannis Club, the Rotary Club, the Local Moose lodge or the city council and chamber of commerce.

Hold a spagetti dinner at your school. Throw a LAN party. Do a science night out for parents while you babysit their kids. (great for Valentines day)

Good Luck

We find local businesses that offer organizations fundraisers. In the past year, we’ve been at Wendy’s, Boscov’s, and Apple Bees. These fundraisers raise enough for the small amount of work required.

Our main fundraisers come from what the team does more for fun.
Twice a year we have a bowling party, where each team member brings in a drink, snack, or desert. We sell tickets to kids in our school, and most everyone on the team buys one as well. We also give out a certificate for the highest scoring bowler of the night.

We also do a “Penny Party.” We sell tickets to as many people as we can. Then, they bring in all their loose change, and at the door they are given tickets. Everyone on the team is asked to donate a few items as prizes. Each round, participants put in one or more of their tickets (which all have the same number as their door ticket), and for each ticket puts in that current round’s cost. Then, they shuffle the tickets and pick one at random. The ticket is called, and the person who has the matching door ticket (the one who put the ticket in) gets that round’s prize. The party goes on until every item won by someone, and then we raffle off a door prize. We also sell food and drinks in the back of the room. It’s a fun time, and it is our biggest fundraiser.

One of the fundraisers we do over the summer to help fund our off-season is a Bottle and Can drive. Basically, go door to door asking for bottles and cans, and turn them in for the money. We got about $750 from this.
I would assume this is a bit location/time-orientated but during the summer also, there is a big Arts and Apples festival held in the Rochester park in our city. During this art fair we are allowed to use the parking lot of our school district’s administration building to charge $5 for parking for the day (it’s a three day art fair).
With both of these, and member contributions that help pay for things like transportation, we have been able to support ourselves during our Fall/OCCRA season.

Your team could also start selling FIRSTGreen E-WATT Saver bulbs, although I don’t really know much about fundraising with them.

Our team has developed a series of science lessons that we present to elementary students twice a year in a program we call “Sciencing On Saturday” (SOS). The topics cover a wide variety of topics including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Lego Robotics. Lessons are broken into levels. 1st & 2nd graders are combined, 3rd and 4th graders, and then 5th graders. We have been doing this program for four years, twice a year one in the fall and one in the spring. We have a large suburban high school (about 2000 students) and we market this to our feeder elementary schools. We charge $15 per session, our first Saturday we have around 35-40 students, we now average around 120-130 sessions slots on a Saturday. So we now bring in around $1800-2000 on a Saturday, and our costs are rarely over $300. We also offer a week long summer robotics camp for 4th and 5th graders, using the Carnegie Mellon Summer Camp on a Disk program. The 2 Saturdays and the week long camp gross around $6600, and our net profit is very high. Our S.O.S. program helped us with our region’s Engineering Inspiration Award in 2011 and the Entrepreneurship Award in 2012. It is a great way to share your team’s excitement for science and technology with young minds. What I really like about this program, is it allows our students to be leaders as they develop and teach the lessons to the elementary school students, and they improve their communication skills throughout this process. Plus our team does not have to compete with every other high school group trying to raise money selling candy, wrapping paper or whatever with only at best a 50% return.

To help teams start their own S.O.S. program we have a set of lessons, as well as other documents “on-a-disk” that we are willing to share. We have had other teams in our state that have done this also with some success. If you are interested in this just email our team at: and I will figure out a way to get the info to you.

Our team is a rookie team. We are from a small high school (80 kids) and we have exactly $50. Anybody have any ideas as to easy ways to raise money that don’t involve a ton of people? (We’re trying to get sponsors from local businesses but we have had no luck so far.)

Do a raffle for a pair of tickets to a football game in the next town. It helps if the home team is the Patriots. :slight_smile: We should make some good scratch with that. (You wanna buy a raffle ticket? Only $20 for a chance at some good seats. Should I put you down for two? Going quick – you only got until Saturday!)

Not very good now but do a can/bottle drive (if you have 5c returnables). We do one in the fall and spring, after thanksgiving and graduations. (After New Years is another good one; outside the school on Kickoff Morning!) With plenty of advance notice (local newspaper, school flyers – make sure the people that have cans know about it!) and cooperation with a bottle recycler, people will drop off tons of cans.

Another “easy” one: we go to our local Stop and Shop grocery store and ask for money from the customers. We bring last year’s robot and have bright and smiley students ask. To tell the truth I don’t think of it for the money (though we do good), but for getting the team in the town’s eyes, having students being able to talk robots with interested adults, and occasionally get a mentor or sponsor. (We got a major sponsor this way; a town resident liked the lights on the robot and talked to his company to help sponsor us.)

The main thing about these is getting the students to realize the little work now saves the team money for travel, hotels, and yes, robot parts that somebody has to pay for.

A lot of companies, including Disney (Disney Park Tickets, which is in fact all they will give you if you live outside of Florida or California), Southwest, and sports teams, offer tickets to not-for-profits for fundraising. Another idea is to have a fundraiser at somewhere like McDonald’s. You contact them and ask them, and they will donate a portion of the proceeds for a certain night provided the person either mentions your team or you get their receipt.

Our team is a rookie team. We are from a small high school (80 kids) and we have exactly $50. Anybody have any ideas as to easy ways to raise money that don’t involve a ton of people? (We’re trying to get sponsors from local businesses but we have had no luck so far.)

Try, I’ve heard they’re popular.

Yesterday I took 2 of my students out with a mission to raise money to buy a 4 slot cRIO, since we only have 8 slots. We went around to about 10-15 businesses and only 1 committed to donating. At the others we left a sponsorship letter explaining what we were doing and who we are. We were trying to hit locally owned businesses or were managed by people with ties to our high school and community. It is a lot of hard work but it can pay off.

Another thing my team does is in previous years we have helped setup, run and tear down our local craft show that is held 3 times a year and got a small donation for our help. This year we gained “rights” to call the craft show our own and we do everything and can keep all the money earned.

Other local teams host a spagetti dinner/auction once a year. Everything is donated and they sell tickets to attend. This has been highly sucessful for them.

We have always done demos for our local clubs (PTA, Booster, Optimist, etc.) and have asked for money to pay for something specific like our shirts or a giveaway. PTA is a big one that you should ask since they are now working together with FIRST just like Boys and Girls Club. It may not have trickled down to local chapter yet but by doing a demo you can spark their interest which can get them asking those above them.

Go into the CD-Media section and search there for fundraising. Lots of examples and suggestions there as well.

A couple of our more successful fundraisers include setting up a table at parent/teacher conferences selling baked goods, bagging groceries at a local grocery store (assuming the store doesn’t already pay someone to bag 'em for the customers), and selling hot dogs, brats, chips, and drinks outside the local meat market. (Drives business indoors.) These have all been good for a few hundred dollars, which, granted, isn’t Big Money, but it ain’t chicken feed either.

For the Big Money, you really need to get some corporate sponsorships going, or write some grant requests. Our team writes several grant requests per year, and we’ve come to realize that it’s sort of a numbers game–a certain percentage are going to turn you down. But that means that another percentage will say yes. Just don’t get greedy: remember next year is another competition with another set of expenses, and you can’t go to the same well year after year and expect your benefactors to keep digging into their pockets for you. (Well, yeah, some will, but most like to spread their money around. If you’re getting the same people to fund you year after year, you might want to talk to them about becoming regular sponsors.)