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From potential sponsors you can ask for money, material, staff, facilities, or any combination of these.
Remember though that it's a two-way street. Be clear on what you are offering them in return and that means a little research into discovering, then appealing to their best interests and business objectives, be it name recognition and visibility, image enhancement, community service/good will, cultivation of interns and future employees, access to pool of potential customers.
- First find them
- Then sell them
- Find the right way to benefit each other
- Finally, work to maintain a healthy relationship
Finding Potential Sponsors
NetworkingThis is something that'll help you in your own future and career. The best results come from networking through parents, relatives, friends, neighbors, community members, co-workers, people who might know people. Companies are much more open if you can find or establish a relationship with them. Many companies support and encourage employee volunteerism through donations where employees volunteer. Companies and foundations have access to special grants that can be tapped. Establish a connection to local companies in industrial and engineering fields.
So start networking through relatives, people you know, people you meet on the soccer field, businesses you frequent, suppliers to those businesses, employers, industrial associations/Chamber of Commerce.
Long Island, NY Technology CompaniesSearching for sponsors should start with a list you can compile from local business publications or your public library. When you talk to them be sure to know what their business is and how well the company is doing. Here is our simple list of the top publicly traded technology and technology related companies headquartered on Long Island, NY. They are all potential sponsors, sources of internships and mentors, as well as being full of employment possibilities.
List of L.I., NY Tech. Companies (, 9 KB)
Convincing Sponsors To Support You
Tax Exempt OrganizationsCorporations enjoy significant tax breaks for charitable donations to tax-exempt organizations, such as school districts or teams incorporated as a 501(c). If you are a school club then you have built-in tax-exempt status, but if you aren't part of a school then all is not lost. There are several options to gaining 501(c) coverage.
- Incorporate as a 501(c) yourself
- Join a 501(c) umbrella organization
The first requires money up front and a bit of legal paperwork. It's easiest if you can find volunteer legal assistance, possibly from a team parent or relative, and there are other FIRST® teams that have gone through the process and are willing and able to assist and lend a hand.
The second is probably the easiest path and Parent Booster USA or the 4-H organization or local educational foundations are usually readily available in most areas of the US. Most people think of plant or animal husbandry when you mention 4-H, but it's actually just an umbrella organization that handles all the tax paperwork and has a strong focus on STEM education.
FIRST Promotional VideosHere are a few of the FIRST released promotional videos. These can be played on a loop at demonstrations or added to a Sponsor CD that you leave behind at the conclusion of a visit.
FIRST Promo Videos
Sponsor CDThis is one segment of a "leave behind" CD we did as part of our continual efforts to attract new sponsors. It's a three minute series of monologue interviews with team members interspersed with voice over action footage from the 2003 season. The interviews are focused on FIRST and its' affect on these students and their career choices. The CD presented this and FIRST released promotional videos in an automatic web browser format at both full and reduced resolutions. Other videos included: An introduction to FIRST, game animations, the Championship wrap video, and other FIRST released promotional videos. Be sure to have permission to reuse videos. FIRST has published and sent to teams various VHS and DVD collections over the years and the FIRST produced material is usually fine as long as it's used in a way that reflects positively on FIRST. However, some of the FIRST released material includes news broadcasts that will be copyrighted by the original media company. Explicit permission must be obtained from the copyright owner for it to be republished on your team promotional CD. Our SBPLI Regional committee liked the idea of these videos so much they used them as part of their 2004/2005 advertising campaign, along with other 2004 Robotic Eagles highlight videos, and videos collected from other regional teams.
Eagle Interviews (.avi, 25.7 MB) | Eagle Interviews (.mov, 20.5 MB)
Written TestimonialsWe collect written testimonials from graduating students, especially the essays written to apply for FIRST scholarships. These can be used as support material when explaining the impact FIRST has on the lives and careers of students.
Here are a couple of samples.
Eagle Essay (, 10 KB) | College Essay (, 10 KB)
Sponsor Tri-fold BrochureHere is a pamphlet we sometimes use when visiting potential sponsors. It's intended as a brief overview of the team and our sponsorship need. A tri-fold short enough to be read rather than disgarded. A new and improved version that better targets sponsor interests and concerns should always be in the works.
2005 Sponsorship Pamphlet (, 613 KB) | 2001 Sponsorship Trifold (, 1.9 MB)
Sponsor Solicitation LetterThis is our generic sponsor solicitation letter. You will get best results if you modify this basic letter to address specifically targeted companies, mentioning the company, their product, what you perceive their interest in community outreach or technical education for youth to be, and so on.
Solicitation Letter (, 29 KB) | Solicitation Letter too (, 184 KB) | Rotary Presentation Followup Letter (, 146 KB) | Followup Letter by Our Principle Sponsor (, 108 KB)
Sponsor FlyerThis is a one sheet flyer showing aspects of Team 358 hard at work on the FIRST program. This is the front side of the flyer while the back describes the program, benefits, what sponsors can do to help, and team contacts. Attractive, short and sweet as a handout at demonstrations and community events.
Team Flyer (, 7 KB)
Support for your RegionalThe Regional events are quite expensive and the money to run them is raised from area sponsors by the Regional Committee. On Long Island, School-Business Partnerships of Long Island (SBPLI) is the 501c organization that sponsors the SBPLI Regional. We assist and support SBPLI's efforts on our behalf by making our students, mentors, and robots available for demonstrations, trade shows, workshops, gala fundraising events, however we can help.
SBPLI - LI FIRST Sponsor Plea (, 4.2 MB)
How to benefit each other
- Teams need: direct funding, scholarships
- Sponsors need: community outreach, payment to 501c or equivalent organization
- Teams need: excess equipment (tools, computers), raw materials or FIRST legal parts , etc.
- Sponsors need: tax deduction write-off at full value rather than scrap
- Teams need: mentors -- engineers, machanists but also publicists, marketing, project management
- Sponsors need: revitalized staff and a source of loyal interns/future employees
- Teams need: machine shops, meeting places, practice space
- Sponsors need: insurance/liability coverage, coordination with non-production time
- Teams need: to attract sponsors/mentors/students and to have a visible positive presence for existing sponsors and school administration
- Sponsors need: community name recognition
Care & Feeding of Your Sponsors
Thank You'sTreat having a sponsor as a year-round committment. Keep communication open and active with team updates, notes or emails mentioning sponsor achievements and successes. Discuss potential internship opportunities, etc. Don't forget how much a simple thank you can mean to the people of the FIRST organization, your sponsors, and members of your Regional Committee. We include an 8x10 team photo along with the letter to our sponsors. Special sponsors get something special, besides any trophies we might happen to win.
FIRST Appreciation (, 28 KB) | SBPLI Appreciation (, 28 KB) | Sponsor Thanks (, 29 KB) | Sponsor Thanks by School Board (, 29 KB)
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