Letters to companies

If you’re writing a letter to… say… a web hosting company… ::cough:: hypothetically ::cough:: or any company at all, for that matter, how would you go about it? Invite them to a presentation? Start with “To whom it may concern:”?

Any tips? =D

Keep it polite 'n professional but make sure it sounds like it was written in the voice of students, not an adult doing the work for them.

Few things that we usually cover in our letter:

  1. What is FIRST
  2. Who the team is, any accomplishments (or since you’re a rookie team, any kinds of projects you are working on), how it formed, why y’all are involved
  3. Why you need sponsorship; specifics are good so they would know where exactly their money is going to.

Since businesses get hit up for sponsorship all the time, keep it short and concise, invite them to a meeting, and make up to follow up with phone calls or visits to their HQ. Also if you want to be creative (and esp. impress a tech company), we made a lil team video/information thingie on those mini-cds. We also have team brochures. hope that helps.

*Originally posted by Aonic *
**If you’re writing a letter to… say… a web hosting company… ::cough:: hypothetically ::cough:: or any company at all, for that matter, how would you go about it? Invite them to a presentation? Start with “To whom it may concern:”?

Any tips? =D **
First off, I never recommend a fully “blind” letter. The chances that it will be heeded if you never even bothered to find out who you are sending it to is very, VERY low. (The same is true with resumes…)

You first wish to call the company, and find out who the decision maker is there that will be the who determines who gets what money. You then address your letter specifically to that person.

Next, while the company is on the line, ask them “do you donate to schools and groups”. If no, go to the next company. If yes, then ask “What are your guidelines and submission procedures for donation requests?” Many companies have a specific person and procedure for requesting funds you must follow.

Now you have rules, a person, and a guide to a successful request.

In addition, find out what requirements a request must meet to be granted. Once you have that, you know what your approach should be.

For example, many companies will NOT grant money for fees or salaries, but only will grant money for “capital equipment” that can be reused. Therefore, in your letter you stress “your $5K will be used to buy a REUSABLE KIT OF PARTS for educating students in robotics”, not “we’ll be paying an entrance fee for a CONTEST with your money”.

One thing to stress in your letter is that the school is a “501c3 charatible institution”, and so all donations to it are tax deductible.

Consider also asking a company for a MATERIALS CREDIT donation. You can often get even small Mom and Pop hardware store operations to donate $100-$200 in an “open account” for you to come in for nuts and bolts. Have them “set up a slip for you” with a total value on it, which is deducted as you use it. It is then closed upon your using up your credit, or at the end of the season. Stores often have this accounting system already in place. Also, the advantage of this method to them is that they are giving and writing off the RETAIL VALUE, yet it only COSTS them their materials costs. What a great deal! :smiley:

We built our first robot at Huron High 830 TOTALLY on a long string of $100-$200 “material account donations” from lumber yards, hardware stores, plastic sign shops, etc… :smiley:

  • Keith

Here is a generic letter that my team uses, we alter it slightly depending on who we are sending it to, but it is basically as follows:

Dear ______________________,

You are receiving this letter because our high-school robotics team is asking for your help.

We are from Sir Oliver Mowat C.I., which is located at Lawrence Ave. East and Port Union Rd., in Scarborough, Ontario. The school has about 1500 students in it, with about 50 involved directly with the Robotics team.

Our team, Mobotics, is competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition. American inventor Dean Kamen founded the competition in 1989 and the competition now involves over 650 high-school teams across the USA and Canada.

Last year was our teams’ first year in the competition, and we competed at the Canadian Regional Competition. We finished in 4th place (of 44 teams), and we were awarded the Rookie All-Star Award for being the best rookie team at the competition (there were 25 rookie teams competing).

This year we shall be attending three competitions: Again the Canadian Regional in Mississauga, the Great Lakes Regional in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and finally the National Competition at the Epcot Centre at Disney World, Florida.

Last year our team budget was about $10,000. This year our budget will be substantially higher – about $30,000 – and this is where you come in.

Most of our money comes from corporate sponsorships. These sponsorships usually take the form of either money, or product donations (which we can use in raffle draws). Any additional funding comes from the students, and parents of those involved.

By supporting the team you will be helping to fund a program that opens doors of opportunity to those people who might not otherwise have the chance to explore interests that may someday become their profession. Our goal is to make the FIRST Program affordable for everyone at Mowat.

To learn more about the FIRST Competition, please visit: http://www.usfirst.org.

For more information on Mobotics, or if you wish to contact us for any reason, please e-mail us at: [email protected].

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Harrison Ruess – Student Team Leader
&
Robb Gerber – Teacher Coordinator

Printed out with our teams letter head on the paper, that is exactly 1 page.

We also have big corporate sponsorship packages (they are several pages and include MUCH more detailed information about every aspect of the team) and they also include team CD that has all sorts of info, as well as promotional videos and what not.

To date my team has just over $23,000 (visit http://www.mobotics.ca to view our current list of sponsors).

And I just mailed out another batch of about 25 Corporate packes to various companies. The rate of return varies depending on who you send them too. But, if all works out we are predicting another $10,000-$20,000 from this set.

Another GREAT way of raising money is through beer bottle drives. Distribute flyers in a residential area, then a few days later get about 20 people together in 4 or 5 groups/zones with mini-vans and have team members go door-to-door asking people for their empties. I dunno about in the US of A, but in Ontario you get 10 cents per bottle, and 5 per can. We’ve done 2 of these so far, and raised just over $1000.

If you want to know more, or want promotional videos or anything, send me a message - [email protected] and I’ll see what I can do about getting some to you (via ICQ, Email, Normal Mail, etc.).

“Show me the money!!!”