Fundraising Strategies & Ideas
To participate in the Kansas ElectroRally you will need some financial resources. As mentioned earlier, the amount of money spent by an ElectoRally team does not necessarily correlate with team success. But it is important to develop some solid fundraising strategies to raise money or gather donations for your team.
The maximum amount of money each team can spend on designing, building and racing their ElectroRally car is $2,000 per car. Most schools will spend less than the maximum. Before developing and implementing your fundraising strategies, your team will need to do several things first:
Now that you have a working budget, it's time to develop your fundraising strategies.
Identify Potential Prospects
When identifying potential fundraising prospects, consider these three ways to help your project - cash donations, material/part donations and sweat equity. Start with a list of all potential prospects. From that list, narrow your prospects in order of priority to a manageable group.
Once the potential prospects list is put together, the team will need to develop a presentation plan (steps discussed later in this section). Your success in acquiring funds, materials and advice will increase greatly with an organized, well thought out presentation plan. Prospects are much more likely to donate if they have a clear understanding of the project, know exactly what's being asked for, and feel they will get a return on their investment. Prepare a cohesive sales pitch, and tell the same story to each potential donor. Coordinate efforts so that prospects are only asked once.
Cash Donations. It would be great if you could just ask for and get all the money needed to complete your project. But most individuals and businesses already donate money to various groups and causes. So acquiring cash donations can be a difficult task. However, if you can identify individuals or businesses in your community who may have a specific interest in the uniqueness of this project (ie. future technologies, electricity, racing), it may be worth your time to put them on top of your list.
Material/Part Donations. This is the area where you will probably have the most success. Target potential businesses (and perhaps individuals) who would be willing to donate (or sell at their cost) materials/parts for your project. Some businesses might include: electrical supply stores, electricians, lumber yards, auto parts stores, hardware stores, metal supply stores, machine shops, bearing supply stores, electronics stores, construction companies, salvage yards, paint stores and bike shops. Don't forget print shops and designers for team shirts.
Sweat Equity. Don't forget about looking and asking for different people's expertise. Although they may be unable to donate money or materials, they may be willing to donate their experience and time to your project. People to consider may be professionals at the local utility company, electrical engineers, electricians, mechanics, structural designers, journalists and maybe even your parents (more about public relations follows).
Develop a Presentation Plan
Make sure in your presentations you tell your prospects exactly how you will promote their participation (i.e. name on the car, wear company hats, etc.).
Organize Presentation Materials. Before contacting any prospects it's important to put together presentation materials. Those materials might include:
ElectroRally background. It's important for the prospect to understand what the ElectroRally project is about. This booklet is a great tool to help explain why ElectroRally racing is so exciting. You can also include designs of your car, team members, and any other interesting background about your specific project. Be sure to mention the scholarship opportunity.
What you want. Before you meet with the prospect, know exactly what you will be asking of the prospect. It may be materials, advice or a cash donation.
What you will give. This is really important. No one wants to "give something for nothing." You are asking for money, materials or advice, but it's important to stress the idea of developing partnerships. The main benefit to your new "partner" will be helping a group of young, industrious, technology-minded students participate in a project that promotes the community and could lead to making our world a better place. Here are some other benefits ideas you could present:
Set up a meeting. Give the prospect a call, introduce yourself, give a brief description of your project, and ask if you can get together for a short meeting to discuss the possibility of them helping out. They may want to know specific details, but assure them the questions can be answered more easily in person.
Go get 'um. Dress nicely. Arrive on time. Be prepared. Be friendly. Be excited about the project. And you'll be successful. If you're not successful in encouraging them to help out, be courteous and thank them for their time.
Follow up. It's a great idea to follow up with a thank you note after your meeting (even if you didn't get them to join the team).
Other Fundraising Methods
Another option is to come up with ways for your team to raise funds on its own. Many student groups and civic groups use efforts like magazine sales, candy sales, book sales, wrapping paper sales, Christmas tree sales and other similar tactics to raise money. However, these usually take a lot of planning and people to work really well. Here are a couple of ideas (no matter what size your city or town) that don't require many people or a lot of planning to raise money.
Car wash. Very little up front investment, you don't need many people and everyone has a dirty car.
Lawn cleanup. With a little bit of advertising (or going door to door) and a couple weekends, the team is making money and making the community look better, too.
Window cleaning. Ladders, Windex, paper towels and a little bit of work, you can make good money doing what no one wants to do themselves.
Junk day hauling. Everyone has junk they need hauled off. With a small group of strong backs and a couple trucks you can clean up (and you might even find some parts for your car).
Snow removal. Snow shovels, snow blowers, and a truck with a blade can bring in some bucks (assuming you have some snow).
Fair or festival games. Every community has a festival or fair, and people are looking for ways to spend money. Give them something fun to spend their money on like dunk tanks (put your principal, coach or local celebrity on the tank and cash in), carnival games (ring toss, bottle throw, dart throw, etc.) or a face painting booth (kids love it ). Be creative.
This can be a fun, team-building, learning exercise. The experience you receive from this activity is valuable and will impress college admissions people. Remember to involve the business classes or clubs and art students to help develop creative approaches for your fundraising plan.