Rookie Fundraising

Hello everybody!
The team I am a member of, team 1712 (Dawgma), just started up this year. We have never really had a club that required the amount of funding that FIRST will, and are still new at trying to obtain sponsorships or large scale fundraisers. After attending a pre-season event at Wisahickon HS, team 341 (Miss Daisy), I noticed how many teams had one or more well known sponsors.

I was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions for fundraisers, obtaining sponsors (and systems for identifying large and small sponsors), or getting any sort of funds at all. Me and my team are thankful for your help and greatly appreciate it. Hope to hear from some of you soon!

First, I’d highly recommend getting a packet together to present to any potential sponsors. (Jessica Boucher put together a nice paper on the subject that I’m too tired to find–it’s in the White Papers section of the site.) If you’ve got someone that can get a decent-looking brochure/booklet/napkin sketch together, you’ll be good.

Second, no donation is too small. (1293’s sponsorship goes as low as $10. Granted, we don’t recognize it as much as a $1,000 sponsorship, but it helps. $10 is halfway to a day with a U-Haul to get carts and toolboxes and such to a competition.)

Thirdly, be creative in looking for sponsors. They don’t necessarily have to be machine shops or big manufacturing companies–teams have been sponsored by everyone from proctologists to Busch Gardens. Very few industries are ill-suited (and I’ll leave you to guess which ones those are).

Finally, look through the Fundraising forum and white papers. Few ideas are too crazy. Teams have held LAN parties, have duct taped teachers to walls, had bake sales, washed cars, and done a million other things to raise money. We’re glad to offer advice and tips on how to make things more effective/saner/interesting. :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot for your imput!
I scrolled through the white pages and saw what was there in terms of fundraising, which was definitely helpful. Seeing how some teams structured their sponsors and their fundraising ideas is great and already aiding me in organizing our first fundraiser.

If anyone else who happens to be looking at this thread has something they want to share, no matter how small, it will be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much to Billfred already for his help!


I can’t tell from your post if you are a student or a mentor, but please encourage your mentors to join NEMO (Non-Engineering Mentor Organization - we can offer a lot of advice in matters such as fundraising, getting sponsors, mentors, etc. I know that I was introduced to two of your mentors on Saturday but I don’t think they made it to the NEMO meeting where we discussed fundraising… so download this flyer and give it to the mentors…
And refer to this post for links to the two NEMO white papers, “Creating a Killer Team Packet” and “25 Ways Sponsors Can Help Your Team”.

And don’t forget, the Fundraising forum has many ideas for fundraisers. Browse around for a while and see just how creative teams can be when they need more money.

KathieK, sorry I didn’t make it clear, but I am a student. I tried opening up the link for the flyer, but it told me that I was not authorized to veiw that page.

Also, sorry that I didn’t see all of the Fundraising Forum. I am still new to the site and didn’t realize that my settings were set to only see threads posted this month. I was wondering why there were so few fundraising threads…

Again, thank you all for your help and support, all your posts have helped greatly!


It was nice seeing your team last weekend at RR.

here are a few ideas-

  1. raffle off a prepaid gas card. You might even get one donated

  2. rake leaves for money- going as a team house to house

  3. bag groceries as a team in the local supermarket and have a table for donations as the people leave

  4. host a LAN party

  5. talk to he mayors office, the city council, the local 4H, the Grange, the district senator, the school board. Somebody in there owns a business

  6. deliver phone books for the phone company

  7. clean highways for the town - they usually have grant funds alotted for that.

  8. go to local businesses with a shopping list- have them pledge a particular tool or piece of equipment you need for the team. Put their name on it and in your web site

  9. if you approach a large company you need to find the person who can make the decision for support. It isn’t easy. It is easier for the underlings to simply put you off. So research a bit and find out what you can.

Whatever you do- thank everybody. If you are nice to them they will be nice to you.

(BTW- your senior mentor told me about that)

Good luck!!

WC :cool:

this is an idea that has been circling my head for the past couple of days regarding fundraising (im not sure if other teams do it)

if you have even been in a walk-a-thon you get sponsored for even mile you walk or something of the sort

i was thinking what if each teammember got some people to sponsor them for ever hour they spend working during the build season…this could easily build up funds considering the many nights we go without sleep


Sponsorship is extremely hard to obtain for a new team, especially if you do not have corporate connections or even if corporations are unfamiliar with your team and the FIRST Robotics organization. However, this is possible by following a few simple steps:

  1. **Make Your Team Known **

    Send out monthly newsletters within the community, create a website, and/or host a fundraising event(s).

  2. **Become Involved **

    Engage in community service efforts by collecting can foods or clothing for those in need. Show the community that you care and that you are willing to give back.

  3. Market Your Team

    For Corporate: Create a Professional Packet highlighting who your team is, what FIRST is, goals for the future, past achievements (including community efforts), and where you are traveling to this season. Personalize these documents with the name of the corporation included. Place these documents in a folder and mail it to the intended corporation. After a few days make a follow-up call to make sure the documents were received and ask if they have any questions.

    For Businesses: Create a basic, yet attractive flyer with a picture of your team and small text areas that include who you are and why you are in need of funding. Also include your goals for the future and how with their donation you will be able to have a successful season. After creating this flyer, print or copy enough to disperse among team members. Require each member to obtain at least 2 local businesses to sponsor your team (even in the most rural locations this is possible). Also Make sure to Poll Members to see if they know anyone (corporate, business, or otherwise) who could contribute to the team.

  4. Host Fundraisers

    Plan fundraisers that can increase your teams funding, examples: Basket Bingo, Spaghetti Dinner, Magic Show, etc. Travel to local supermarkets to see if food items can be donated or to other stores to request door prizes that can be raffled. Set a goal for the number of tickets each member is required to sell (divide how many people you are able to accommodate and divide it by team members, ex. 200/20 = 10 tickets each need to sell). Always decrease the accommodation amount when making this calculation if you are selling tickets at the door.

  5. **Involve Parents **

    Involve parents in aiding with fundraising events by contributing refreshments that can be used for the event. Make these free to increase attendance. Create a small presentation for parents of new members to inform them about the program and to also motivate the to help. 

    Accomplishing the above steps will increase funding yearly. However, all of these steps may not be able to be completed in a single season. As you become more established they should be expanded on yearly. I hope this helps, if you have any questions please contact me.


Thank you all for your help! I will definitely start to implement all of your ideas into our future fundraisers.

I now also have another question. It seems that many of you suggest raffles for fundraisers, which I am trying to do myself, but it seems that our school district forbids any form of gambling, which I have been informed involves certain types of raffles. While I am going to go to my principal to see if raffling off objects with cash value, such as a videogame system, is legal, I was wondering if any other teams have encountered this problem and what they did in this situation.

While it would be a severe setback if we were not able to use raffles as fundraisers, all of your suggestions has provided enough ideas that having other types of fundraisers shouldn’t be a problem. Again, thank you all for your help!


Regarding raffles, you may also need to comply with state or local legislation. Connecticut requires that the raffle be registered with the state in order to be legal.

As a fundraisers we’ve done someting called Robo-bowling. On a saturday, we’ve gone to our local bowling alley and rented it for 3 and a half hours and sold tickets for unlimited bowling in the time, which included shoe rental, for $10. we’ve done this for two years now and we usually make about $1,000. this also involoves a raffle, since our bowling alley can’t hold alot a people! it’s a great fundraiser and we usually do it at the end of the build season so the team members can particitpate and it’s a lot of fun.

Oh yes, I already know that some states require regestration for raffles. I have been researching this a bit because I want to start the raffle within the next few weeks. I was just wondering if any teams have also encountered school restrictions when it comes to raffles and what they have done in this type of situtation.

#1Transgirl1140, thats a really good idea. I’m actually part of a bowling league myself, so I wouldn’t mind having a bowling event. Again, thank you all for your great ideas!


Also the FIRSTWiki( has a couple pages on fundraising you might want to look at.

We put together a sponsorship/media booklet that we will be posting on our web site soon, maybe sometime this week, if the member working on our web site gets around to it.

As promised, here is a PDF of our 2005-2006 Sponsorship Packet:

Hello again!

Thanks for Sponsorship booklet, I’ll probably start to gather information and pictures together soon to create a packet of our own. Thanks for your help on that!

It looks like my team is still having some issues though getting fundraisers off the ground. Apparently it is illegal in our school district to have raffles that last over several days, so a large scale raffle that I had planned was scrapped. This kinda put a dent in the profit we could have made by having raffles.

Another issue with our school district is sponsors… we aren’t allowed to have any. We can have “Donors”, but we can’t put names and logos on our shirts, where they would get the most attention. While we are allowed to have names and logos on our site, our pit, and the robot, I’m not sure if we can mention our “donors” names along with our own.

Has any other teams faced these kind of restrictions? I know that there are many other types of fundraisers to do, but I would just like to know what other teams in the same situation have done. Thank you all again!


Wayne C has some good suggestions.

When approaching a larger company, ask to speak with their corporate giving office. These are the folks who deal with requests for money. The very first question should be “What are your company’s corporate giving goals?”.

If they give an answer like education, promoting technology, or something else FIRST has in loads, then continue by explaining FIRST and how your team fits into the company’s charitable goals. Try to set up a meeting with them to explain it, rather than try it over the phone. Students should definitely be involved, not mentors or teachers, but the student should be extraordinarily neat, well-spoken, and professional. Gracious Professionalism. No company will donate to ‘a bunch of ill-mannered kids’.

Above all, do not be afraid. Worst they can do is torture you… er, I mean they will just say NO (very politely, of course). Grow a thick skin and don’t let the NOs discourage you. You only need one $10k YES, probably get a bunch of $500 Yesses instead, but hey, whatever…

If, OTOH, their goals differ wildly from FIRST - they focus exclusively on scholarships, or environmental causes - thank them for their time, and then ask if they might have any emplpyees who might like to get involved. Mentors are good to have, and might open other doors…

Also don’t forget about asking for donations of services or materials. Again, worst they can say is no.

As for other ideas,

  • A car wash with pre-sold tickets is great when the weather is warmer
  • The Board of Ed and/or PTA is often generous, once you explain what the goals are (Gracious Professionalism…)
  • Each team member’s parents probably work somewhere, that might help open some doors.

Go to a local car dealer and see if they will participate in a car raffle. (They provide the car at cost, you sell something like 1000 tickets at $100 each (say it’s a $50k car) and you might be able to turn some serious money there.

Kind of depends on the type of community you have. What works in a wealthy NJ suburb might not work in a rural district. But, here on Chief Delphi you have access to some of the best experts in the field, make good use of it and you might surprise yourself.

Good luck,

Wow, that is a serious restriction, and will not help your efforts. Perhaps you can find out more about this rule, specifically what the district’s goal in having this rule is. By understanding why you are restricted, perhaps you can figure out a way to convince the powers that be to change the rule, or make an exception. Whomever make these decisions, the goal here is to educate them in a friendly and professional manner. Like I said before, the worst they can say is no.

Good Luck,

Does anybody have any resources for LAN Party fundraiser guide? With the approaching winter cold season, we’re limited from doing things like car washes and such. As a member of our Board of Directors, part of my job is to find fundraising ideas, and I’d like to present the idea of a LAN Party to my team. The BPA (Business Professionals of America) hosted one last year at our school, even the techies played and it appeared that they had a good turn out. I unfortunately do not know who they talked to or where they got all the equipment. If anyone has any ideas on setup stuff, activites (games, etc), and where to start, it’d be appreciated.

Speaking of LAN parties, what games did teams that have hosted LAN parties played? I know a lot of popular LAN games are FPSes, which are mostly rated M. Again, my school district has a policy that does not allow M rated games to be played in school or played in any school fundraisers.