FTC:Funding A Team
If a team is part of a school that offers FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), they will likely pay for registration fees and provide equipment for a participation fee. Teams should check with their school first to avoid having to pay fees and buy equipment themselves.
If a school does not offer FTC, teams need to find ways to get funding. These teams often rely on the help of sponsors from their community, fundraisers, and grants in order to fund their robot expenses, tournament registration fees, travel costs, and any other investments.
Making connections with companies is the best way to get funding, and many engineering or design companies are eager to support local robotics teams. Before reaching out to sponsors, it is a good idea for teams to write a business plan with information about the team and their goals for the season
There is an easy way to contact a company and ask for sponsorship once ready. The process is detailed in the Asking for Sponsorship page.
Another great way to raise money for your FTC team is to have fundraising events. This is a great method because there are many different types of events you can do and they can be personalized to your team.
One possible fundraising idea is to contact a local restaurant. They often hold events and donate a portion of their revenue for a given time to schools or school activities.
Another way is to run the concession stand at a FIRST tournament or sporting event. Items can be bought in bulk, and sometimes even donated from restaurants, to be sold at these events.
Teams can set up fundraising events on GoFundMe for family and friends to donate to. These can be used for general season expenses or for a larger financial project or goal.
Teams can also do fundraising events such as candy sales, bake sales, or car washes where friends and family can support them.
Aside from seeking support from local businesses or the community, there are many different grants available to teams. There are grants available through FIRST, REV, and other companies, each with different requirements. Some are specifically for rookie teams, while others are open for anyone. There are some grants which have teams respond to longer essay questions, and there are others that just require basic team information. Grants are usually available in the late summer or early fall.
Preparing to Receive Money
Many companies will want a federal tax id number, or employer ID number (EIN), before donating money, so it is a good idea to get one for the team. It is a quick process and free. The team can be set up as a Doing Business As (DBA) organization with the coach as a sole proprietor. The resulting federal tax id number can then be used to open a checking account. A checking account for the team that is separate from the coaches’ or mentors’ personal accounts is recommended so that tracking of monies in and out of the team is explicit and auditable.
Some companies can only give to a 501(c)(3) organization, so a team could also set themselves up that way. However, there are a lot of legal hoops to jump through and monies must be tracked carefully because the IRS scrutinizes 501(c)(3) organizations more carefully. The added benefit of becoming a 501(c)(3) is that some companies like Slack allow those non-profits to use their services for free.
- FIRST Team Grants
- REV Team Sponsorship
- REV Team Sponsorship
- 501(c)(3) Organization Requirements
- Employer ID Numbers