I don't have any advice on how to approach businesses other than just asking. I am a sales rep for a small bread company and my own small bus. and I just plain out ask people if they want to carry our product. (insert sponsorship for your son).
But what I would do, is create a shared Google document where all the team members can access it and write up a spreadsheet of places where they want to approach, where they did approach, and if they got a yes or no. This way the same attorney in town is not getting asked 4 times.
Make up a little poster/flyer of what the sponsorship entitles. ie....sticker/logo on robot, name/logo on shirt, name on presentation table. thanked when team wins. Do they get to write off the money donated? People like to give when they get.
Make sure you get an image/logo from the business so you can download it on to the computer and make sticker with labels you can get at office depot or the like.
When your son and team members approach a business have them make a profolio of their track record, what they hope to achieve with the sponsorship, what their goals are this year...ect. Its like of like applying for a job.
Value proposition. What value is the company getting?
In some instances, the value is simply the good feeling of helping out.
In others, more is needed (see posts above).
My office has a policy of supporting youth sports. We don't donate to much else. It makes my life easy to be able to say (since I'm just an employee, not an owner), "No, sorry but we have decided to give our sponsorship dollars to youth sports." Or, "Sure, your organization might qualify, I will bring this to the business owner for consideration."
You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng
Don't forget donations/private sponsors. My nephew's marching band had a prestigious event. They had to raise a huge amount of money and had found this method to be very successful: Send an announcement to 10 friends or family members with the details of the competition; make it like a brief flyer. At the bottom of the flyer, have a tear-off portion with your son's name, the event, The deadline, and a blank line for them to fill in their donation amount. Of course, include a stamped self-addressed envelope. His band discovered this to be very lucrative. They expected family members to donate maybe $10 each, but many people donated $50 or $100.
Find a way to advertise the local company with signs in the mall, etc.,name of the supporting companies on the back of the t-shirts. Something that the company can use as a tax receipt for the donation? It is a relatively small amount of $ and we love helping local kids do something like this.
Local newspapers are very good at writing up local kids and wold mention the sponsors...
These kids are the leaders of tomorow.
Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique
That's a great idea PeteyPie. Never would have thought of that.
I'm not sure what the companies would get out of sponsoring the Robotics team. I'll forward these ideas to my son and he can bring them up with the team.
It was easy when I was responsible to getting sponsorships for a charity horse show because I was fund raising for other people. It's harder to wrap my head around fundraising for my own kid. I offered to 'sponsor' him myself but I guess getting out and talking to real businesses is part of the learning experience.
It's a really neat project. I'll see if I can get a link to the competition they were at last year. I'm hoping this will turn into going into the robotics program at MIT for him. He really enjoys the building and programming.
I think that if you guys could come up with some way to make it worth the while for businesses, that would help.
T-shirts, maybe some sort of community service project where they wear the shirts with the sponsor's names? Like a read to kids program at a library or something?
I think you guys should come up with a "plan"....we want to go to this competition, we need donations, but we're going to do this other activity and advertise your business. What would make sense? To me, some kind of community project would make sense. Maybe cleaning up leaves for elderly? Something...I'm thinking...I'm thinking....
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
If they are approaching businesses for sponsorship then they need to offer the business some type of promotion for their $$. Are they allowed to put sponsor logos on the robots? Is their an event with the robots that the local paper covers?
As a business owner and one that brings in sponsorships all day long I have to offer a 'pay out' of some type to a sponsor. Be it signage, logo and link on a website of ours etc.
The kids should prepare a sponsor package that shows what their goals are, their past awards etc and their plans for the future. It can be done in 2-3 pages nicely presented to sponsors.
As a business owner I would gladly take a meeting with a kid that is looking for sponsorship for robotics! Everyone loves little geniuses!! However if their parent approached my company they would lose any opportunity at funding. If the kids need the money then the life lesson here is to present yourself professionally to prospective sponsors and convince them why you are a good investment. Each kid only needs $500? Well that is about 15 companies he has to present himself to (with appointments made ahead of time) and they should be able to get $100 from 5 sponsors.
This is a great lesson for kids to learn. Someday he may need $1 million in funding for a big project, this will help him learn how to get in, get an appointment with the decision maker and ask for the money by selling himself and ideas.
Don't forget to focus your asks on likely places first. For robotics, try hobby shops that carry remote control car or airpane parts, battery stores that carry the type of battery used in the robots, the company making the wheels used, electronics supply houses, etc. It helps to be able to say "we use your products, and we can put your name out there to others who may buy from you too". These "focus" donors have a better reason to give, so you are more likely to meet the goal sooner. Also, your son can talk about the products and why they use them, making a stronger case. They may also make in-kind donations to the program, so your son may want to find out the parameters on that before making the ask.
I just donated a pickup truck load of remote control cars, controlers and parts (my brother recently passed away) to the high school robotics team. They acted like it was Christmas morning!