Does anyone know how teams are going to deal with sponsors that send money to FIRST? How does a team get those funds if only “FIRST Robotics Competition team” are elegible? Sponsors are sending funds now… Where does all that money go?
I saw a similar post this morning in one of the Facebook groups.
For those of us who aren’t current registered FTC or FLL mentor/coach 1 or 2, can you share the email or webpage announcement for context?
From what I gather so far: grants from sponsors, for teams, paid directly to HQ must now be applied to FIRST expenses (registration, etc.) and cannot be regranted to the team. If I understand that correctly, it would seem your best–and only-- option (assuming you have excess funds) is to approach the sponsor and ask for the grant directly to your organization.
The actual policy is linked here:
Item #2: “Regrants are eligible for U.S. based FIRST Robotics Competition teams only.”
It was mentioned to the PDPs sometime over the summer, so a lot of them probably missed it and didn’t pass it along, or possibly didn’t realize the impact it would have on some teams. There used to be a $500 minimum on the regrants for FLL/FTC but now they won’t regrant anything.
The regrant button is still on my dashboard. Unless they changed it this year. Sponsors can choose the nature of the grant. First expenses only or a general grant. The grant will always be applied first to entry fees. After that you can apply for a regrant if it is a general grant. You have to be an nonprofit to be eligible for a regrant. In most cases that will be a school or a non-profit created to support the team. There are non-profits out there that will except funds in trust for a team. They have a responsibility to make sure funds are spent properly and generally charge something for their overhead.
Several of our sponsors prefer to donate through First rather than directly to the team. They get brownie points at First and it is easier for them on the paperwork side.
It looks like the only real big difference here, is the frequency of the requests.
The past several years, FIRST Finance has been very shorthanded.
Instead of doing a regrant every opportunity you get, for donations received, they are limiting it to just 2 per season.
As a member of a company that donates >$100K to FIRST, I’ll be honest, we will chose not to give, than to cut checks to 100’s of individual teams.
In addition, where does all the money go when teams can’t regrant at the end of the season? Does FIRST keep it?
FRC teams are allowed 2 regrants, FTC and FLL do not get to regrant.
The fact that these policies are not published with a changelog drives me up a wall.
It is asymmetric information warfare.
I missed that, as I only looked at what was posted by Travis.
I wonder why not for all of the FIRST programs.
You have to wonder, what will stop this policy change from expanding into FRC in 23-24?
It would be good to know the reasons behind why they stopped allowing it for FTC and FLL. If its about workload, I’m sure solutions could be worked out.
From First policy on gift acceptance. Aug 2019. A link on Travis’s link.
Gifts and remainders of gifts accepted on behalf of a specific FIRST Team that are not utilized by the specific FIRST team at the end of each FIRST fiscal year will become unrestricted gifts to FIRST
So yes absent a modifying agreement with the donor, First keeps it. To be fair to First they announce that frequently at the end of their physical year. Absent some sort of policy like this you can end up with orphan money that doesn’t get spent on the original purpose cannot be spent on anything else.
Correction: last year around this time, the policy was: " The regrant must be a minimum of $100 for FIRST LEGO League Explore, FIRST LEGO League Challenge, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition."
Now it’s: “Regrants are eligible for U.S. based FIRST Robotics Competition teams only.”
This is interesting and new ground for us. Last year we were very happy to get a grant from 3M. My understanding of the system was that individual 3M facilities initiated these grants and you had to be invited to apply (which we did hours before the deadline!). Our registration fee is en route, so when it is received can we just hit request regrant and something happens? We have of course expressed our appreciation to 3M several times and did a tour/demo there a few weeks ago, but the nuts and bolts of this system are rather opaque!
Just pure speculation --I wonder if it’s a high volume of teams and relatively low amounts of money in those accounts that creates work, bank fees, accounting, auditing, etc… that FIRST just doesn’t have resources to deal with.
Hopefully it doesn’t happen for FRC because it would really hurt. We’re affiliated with a Catholic school so we’re ineligible to receive donations from a ton of big companies so we’ve had prior years where we had a ton of money re-granted to us because all the mentor company money would have to get issued to FIRST.
Unfortunate as a Canadian team that has had to get regrants last several years… apparently no longer allowed to do so.
Arbitrarily sign up for regional events to use the money I guess?
This is horrible. It feels like they are not taking the sponsors intentions into account. Those sponsors grant to specific teams for reasons. If they wanted FIRST HQ to get the money, they would donate directly to HQ.
So now I guess I should only try to get 1 sponsor/ grant for my team registration and registration alone. Anything else doesn’t actually help or team directly at all, so why put in the effort. Right?
It would be nice if they would at least roll the money over to the next year. It would be really terrible if someone couldn’t compete because their sponsor fell on hard times, yet the team was forced to forfeit remaining money from the year before.
If this is legal within the guidelines of the sponsorship or FIRST as a non-profit, then this seems like the perfect solution to address whatever challenges FIRST has in having to issue regrants.
As of right now though, it’s not policy.
To be honest, I don’t understand how it’s legal for FIRST to just take the money that was specifically earmarked for an individual team. (Though, obviously, it must be) I’m curious if there’s a legal clause a sponsor can employ to stop them from doing this. I think it sometimes goes back to the company if it doesn’t get used (Which doesn’t help teams either) but is there a way to be sure it goes to the teams you intended it to?
In fact, honoring a donor’s earmarks too closely can be illegal! (Or, if not illegal, then certainly enough to threaten your tax exempt status.) A 501c3 public charity must be able to show that it decides, at its own discretion, how contributions are used for charitable purposes.
If donors have a wish for their contributions, and FIRST is no longer honoring that wish, then I hope they will consider giving to teams directly rather than relying on the regrant process.