Fundraising Ideas

So, my robotics club only goes to one competition each year because we never have enough money to go or we do not know if we will have enough. We have fundraisers and a decent amount of sponsors, but we are always short. Besides having more sponsors, what are some decent fundraisers that your team does to get enough money to go to more than one competition.
This could help not just my team, but other teams who are in the same boat.

Just to get some ideas flowing, how many members do you have on your team? And what are your team dues each year? Thanks.

First, my team is made up of, hopefully, around up to 20 active members.
Second, our team has no dues as in we pay the club. If you are not a useful member of the team and/or you do not fund-raise, you will not attend any events that the club has to pay for you to go.

Many local restaurants will provide a portion of the funds for charity events. I know that Chik-Fil-A, Arby’s, Applebee’s, and Foster’s Grill do them. You can also get funding and material from 84 Lumber and Lowe’s. Look for major corporations and entities in your local area that might have STEM outreach programs.

Here’s a good start:

General Electric almost certainly has STEM outreach efforts.

Thanks for the input. I would also like to clarify dome things. First, GE sponsors our 5 grand registration fee and also give us a decent amount of money. Second, unfortunately, most of the employers on that list do not respond to any of our letters. We do however still try every year. But the big thing is that Erie is going through a rough time, since almost every big employer are cutting staff and/or sending their employees out of Erie.
-Thanks for the input
Also, we do have Applebee’s and Cici’s pizza as sponsors since we do small fundraisers with them.

Sorry. Last non-fundraising thing. Our team requires us to raise $600 a year (whether by sponsorship or out of pocket). It usually isn’t that bad (unless you have 2 other siblings on robotics like me…). That would get you around $12,000 which would cover 2 event registration fees.

Anyway, with fundraising, what my church does for mission trips are things like pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners. For pancake breakfasts, we suggest paying $5 and donating above that if you want. Over the course of 2 days, I’d say we get about 300 people in. That’s $1500 without anyone donating above. Do that once every other month and that’ll get you around $9000, plus whatever people donate above that.

Another idea could be raffles. Our school’s jazz band has people donate baskets (usually full of candy and a gift card or 2). They raffle these off during the concerts. I’d say the average value of the small baskets are around $30 and the large baskets are around $100. They charge $2 a raffle ticket for small raffles and $5 a ticket for big raffles if I’m not mistaken. I don’t have exact numbers on this but they usually have about 20 small baskets and 3 big baskets.

At the end of our season in May, my team holds a gala. We serve dinner, present awards to the graduating seniors and mentors, host a silent auction, show off that season’s robot, and have students give testimony the coaches. It’s a lot of work, but definitely an idea. Something else we tried this year was hosting a dodge ball tournament. Teams of students from the school could register by paying $5 per student (or $40 together for their 8-person team) and then were shuffled into a bracket. We had local companies give prizes, and also had concessions. The event was a huge hit among the students, and a similar style event might be able to help you guys out. Good luck!

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Our team also does a fundraising dinner. We partnered with our drama team and have a dinner and play option. During the dinner we have a dessert auction that team members are required to get donations for. We usually bring in about $3000 from it.

Unfortunately you need to be doing more than writing letters. I have been on both sides of this equation and what a sponsor is looking for is someone who will engage with them. If all you are doing is sending in a letter requesting cash what proof do they have that they will get anything for their money? So do a bit of research on them, find a number you can call them on, call them and ask to be connected to the person that manages philanthropy/social responsibility or community outreach. If you have been really good at your research then you will actually have found a name. If you are lucky you will be put through. If not ask for their email address. Then send them mail asking what you would have to do to get them to sponsor you. If you found some stuff out in their research, like they give priority to STEM, have a volunteer program etc. use it.

Then when you have sponsors work out how to keep their attention. Send them regular updates, photos of the robot, have an open house and invite them to come see you etc. Even during times when employers are reducing investment in an area if you work hard enough you will find individuals at those companies who believe in what you are doing as much as you do and will try and help out.

My team actually started doing this last year as well. A Fundraiser Dinner allows you to:
a) Go out into your community to local businesses and make connections. When asking for auction items, we always make sure to give the businesses a simple brochure with information about our team and the program. This really gets the word out there, and can set up a foundation upon which you can build (in regards to retaining them as sponsors).
b) Raise money by selling tickets. Last year, we sold tickets at $40 each, and got a really enthusiastic response from our community. We also offered special deals if someone wanted to reserve a whole table.
c) Potentially keep 100% of the profits made. Try to work with your school, non-profit organization, overhead affiliate, or sponsors to cover the venue/catering costs. We successfully secured enough funding to cover the logistics last year, so the profits that we made from selling tickets and auction items were 100% profitable for both us, and the other participating FRC teams.

Putting on a dinner like this is a herculean task. I recommend putting together a planning committee of mentors, sponsors, parents, and committed students.

Hope this helps.

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Our team has a number of sponsors, but most of them have some personal connection to someone on the team. My employer, the employers of other mentors, companies associated with the employers of mentors (such as the law firm or bank that the company uses), the employers of parents of students on our team…

So start with those connections. Don’t just send a letter but encourage your mentors, students, and parents to reach out personally. Many companies will change their tune when they find out one of their own employees is involved somehow.

As for fundraisers, we’ve done good ol’ bottle drives, as well as pancake breakfasts, pasta dinners and silent auctions. We do also charge a small fee for students to join, and they are all responsible for paying their share of transportation and lodging costs for events.