Our team does not rely on school funding or student fees to fund itself. Instead, we raise funds through events and donations.
Most team fundraisers are held at local restaurants. Many have benefits or community nights where a portion of the profit is then donated to the team. We also bring and demo robots and give out door prizes depending on the restaurant's policy.
Fundraisers are best when planned ahead and spaced out throughout the pre-season. It's a good idea to visit local restaurants and talk to them about fundraising. Different businesses have different policies, so be sure to talk to them ahead of time. Try to spread out the scheduling of each event as well; if there are three in only a few weeks, not as many people will attend.
Once scheduled, don't forget about the fundraiser! There is a lot of planning to do before it happens. One of the biggest things is advertising. If no one knows, no one will show up. At our school, we try to put up posters, get on the announcements, and send out emails through the team and school websites. Recently, we've also gotten onto the calendar pages of local newspapers as well. Get creative, and try to advertise in at least three different ways. The more people that come, the better.
When planning, don't forget to get team coverage. We recommend using a sign up sheet, and depending on the length, having team members and mentors come in shifts. Make sure you have information about the team (brochures, flyers, posters, etc.). Also, be sure to bring everything for the robot if it's being demoed.
At some fundraisers, we are allowed to take donations, though teams should check with the business first. It's always a good idea to try to bring people over to wherever the team is set up and talk to them about FIRST. Be friendly to everyone and make sure the team is respectful.
Most importantly, be sure to thank the manager for helping the team out. We suggest writing a thank you note, such as the example under files and documents. It's very important to show your appreciation.