Sponsorships.....

I’m not quite sure if this goes in the general thread, but I wanted to ask a quick question. Do any teams get sponsored by say, a local Chick-fil-a, McDonalds, or Subway? I’m interested because lots of times our team enjoys eating together during the middle of the day, but it is quite expensive for our rather large team to buy food. Right now we use a system where each student pays, but I was just wondering if there are any teams with experience getting sponsored by restaurants or fast food chains.

I know many teams that create partnerships with nearby food distributers to help feed the team on those long meetings.

Last year, several restaurants, including Subway, Taco Bell and a few more, donated weekly dinners for our team. One of the parents on our team volunteered to set this up.

At one point the local Papa Johns gave use discounted pizzas so we could resale at the same price that they did.

We then sold the pizzas at local FLL and FTC tournaments. On top of making about 5$ profit per pizza, we did not feel guilty about jacking up the price; the people were paying the same amount as they would have at the pizza place.

I will warn you that your mileage will vary from place to place, certain places did not give us a discount, and others gave us varying prices. Results varied even at different branches of the same brand.

We’ve had food partnerships with a number of different resturants since we started in 2006 (in fact having Chick-Fil-A at our first meeting brought in about 3 students that otherwise would not have been on the team.)

The level of support ranges from gift cards, and discounts, to spirit nights and even free food.

The kind of support you get from your local resturants will vary, but like all sponsorships, you never know till you ask.

Another way we get food at our build meetings is to work with parents to share meals. We have a schedule for parents to sign up and provide the team with dinner for the different nights of the build season. If you do this please make sure that all the parents who have voulenteered are aware of any alergies or dietary restrictions any team members might have.

Though you may have issues with getting large franchised restaurants to support you, you may have a great deal of luck with local pizza shops etc. We have a deal with one near us where they give us pizza for something like $4/pie.

Back when I was a student, I found that restaurants were very easy to work with in terms of sponsorships.

As one example, Chipotle (before it went public) donated to our team about 700 free burrito cards, which we were able to sell for $5 each (I think we used some of them for lunch on the weekends once or twice).

The next year they donated 200 burritos for us to sell during lunch.

You’ll find that many chain restaurants are franchised, and the local owner/operators are the people you want to approach.

Wow, I’m surprised people have actually managed to get food sponsorships. How did you work that out? Did you send a letter or meet in person?

Wow! Thanks guys! Our team REAlly needs to look into this now, haha. :]

We called the place and asked to talk to the manager.

Meeting in person will probably pay off larger dividends. Its easier to decide whether or not donate money to people when you can see who the voice is coming from. It can also lead to less confusions; the people at the place know who exactly they should be handing the pizzas off to.
We ran into some problems because some of our order was given to someone else, causing major confusion.

Our team has also had luck with grocery stores/wholesale clubs giving discounts or more, this is especially true if they carry fresh baked goods that are nearing the end of their shelf life. It also provides the opportunity for students to present a professional demeanor when dealing with a business owner/general manager/franchise owner. Involving these places can also help your team viability in the community as you interact with these business and their customers.

I was just getting started in my fundraising efforts when my mother found Chipotle had a booth set up at some community event. Anyhow, the person behind the counter was the regional such and such of marketing for Chipotle, my mother talked about what I was doing and he was interested to hear it.

After that we chatted a bunch over the phone, and Chipotle became my best sponsor in the four years I participated in High School.

Many of these restaurants also appreciate a thank you letter from the team along with a team photo.

Not to mention a logo on your website or a mention on your facebook page. You should also tweet a thank you on the night they feed you.

Right before Christmas one of our college mentors and a student went around to restaurants near our build space handing out tri-folds and talking about how we need to feed 30 people every night for 6 weeks.

Because of this effort, yesterday I met with the manager of California Pizza Kitchen. Not only are they providing us a meal for one night of build, they are sponsoring a spirit night at their store where we receive 20% of the sales and they are donating some appetizers for our sponsor open house.

You never know what you will get till you ask. I suggest always in person, it is harder to say no to a teenager in person than on the phone. Always have some sort of literature about FIRST and your team. Always offer to bring your robot to their business. (we have done science nights at Chick fil A for their kids nights) Always invite them to come see what you are building and make sure you thank them!!!

We do get food donations from local pizza & bagel shops, and more than one local restaurant runs team-support nights, where the team gets 10-20% of their sales for a day from folks who bring in a special flyer.

Davey’s Restaurant in Montvale NJ is not only the home of great food (which they share with us!) but a great sponsor as well.