There are many different ways to raise funds for your project and there is no absolutely
correct method to adopt. In the end you will have to gauge for
yourself what works and what doesn't. The only way to get wet, is
to put your toe in the water. The following hints and tips are
you begin, you should ask yourself what you can offer the potential
contributors. They say you should walk a mile in a potential sponsor's
shoes. What this means is: put yourself in their position, before
the approach. That way you may help yourself to identify
obstacles. Mostly, it will be that their budget is already
allocated, or that sponsorship is something new to them - hence they
might not appreciate the exposure that will be generated.
individuals want to feel they are helping a worthwhile project.
Most companies want that too, but they also want some public recognition
in the form of branding for their shareholders. The association
generated justifies the expenditure for corporate sponsors in terms of
advertising. It may well offer your sponsors good value in this
regard and for that reason it makes good business sense for them to get
Adopt A Solar Cell
Many schools, colleges and universities have an "Adopt-A-Cell" program in which they ask
for contributions in increments of solar cell costs. For instance, if
your solar cells are going to cost £4 ($6.50) each, you may want to assign an
approximate cost of £5 ($8) to a cell to cover taxes, shipping, installation
materials, etc. Hence, your Adopt-A-Cell program would offer people the
opportunity to contribute @ £5 ($8) per cell, which will help your team buy the
600 - 900 cells you need - or £30,000 - 45,000 you need to raise.
In return, the contributors know that you have recorded their name
and the number of cells they have contributed.
Residential door to door fundraising with Adopt-A-Cell forms could work if
you have a large number of team members that don't mind spending a day on the street.
I would suggest door to door only at weekends to avoid missing
people. Remember that people can adopt as
many cells as they feel comfortable with.
Small Business Sponsorships
Business door to door also works well, but the initial focus should be
on significant contributions ($25, $50, $100, $1000?). You should take
an information packet that includes a current list of sponsors, an
introduction to the team and the Solar Challenge Event, the budget,
etc. If the business person you are talking with declines any general
contribution, it has been found that many of these people will still adopt
one or more cells. Your information packet should include any
interesting information about your team, how it was started, your goals,
etc. The cover of the information packet can have a picture of the car
or a drawing of what it may look like when completed.
Remember that it is easier to get smaller donations than large ones. It
is not unusual for small businesses to give in the £50 region, but you
will have to make your best guess as to what to ask for with large
Be prepared to be asked "How much do you need?" or
"What is your budgeted cost and how much have you raised so
far?" Set a minimum contribution amount for those companies that
will be listed in your packet as contributors or prime sponsors. Let them know that the
contributors list will be seen by many other business people. Explain
why the project is educational. Always ask to speak to the owner and
don't give your prepared speech to just anyone. I've experienced success
with companies related to automotive and construction as they can
more easily relate to the project efforts.
The larger the company, the more professional the presentation should
be. A Powerpoint slide show does nicely if you explain it well. To
approach a large company, call their corporate office and ask to speak
to the person responsible for sponsorships. If they like what you say
over the phone, then you will probably be asked to make a presentation
to a group of people at their location. Let them know the set price to
get their name on your car (I suggest a minimum of £500). It may take
several phone calls to get to the point where you can make a
presentation, but it will be worth the time once you get there.
Community service organizations are one of the very best places to get
funding. The local Lion's or Rotary type organizations are concerned for
the benefit of their communities -- of which you are a part. Be prepared
to make presentations to these organizations.
Large gatherings of people are a good place to fundraise. For
example, fairs and city farmers' markets are usually pretty successful.
In order to get into city functions, call city hall and ask about an
event. They are usually very helpful. At large functions, get a booth or
site and set up a table with photos of your progress so far. Have team
members there ready to answer questions. The car is the best thing to
attract attention, even if it is only partially complete. People like to
see what they are contributing for and like to help. You may even
develop contacts with companies that can do welding, machining, or
furnish wiring, etc. as a result of having your car on display. Make
sure you have permission to fundraise at an event.
Remember that it is sometimes
easier for a company to contribute a product or service that to give
cash. Be sure that if you hold a raffle, that you get a hold of the
winner! Also, the winner should be drawn at the event so that there is
no suspicion regarding how the drawing was performed.
Either before or after the Solar Event, it is a good idea to
have some kind of get-together where all of the supportive people
(parents, sponsors, etc.) can see the car and be thanked for their
support. You can probably get your school or college to allow the use of a gym or
cafeteria. be sure to show off your car. The sponsors who see this may
decide that yours is a worthwhile project and donate twice as much next
ask, ask. If you don't ask - you will never find out.
Sponsorship allows people to
others through you.
When you participate in an
event, you also
represent all those who donated to your campaign.
Make sure everyone
realizes that their contribution will last much longer than the 30
seconds it takes to write a check or make an online donation.
your efforts whenever possible - you never know when a corporation has
not committed their maybe substantial advertising budget.
Involve everyone you
know, because, most people find that their daily contacts
supply plenty of potential contributors. You'd be surprised at how many people
you know - even casual acquaintances - will support your efforts, or
know someone else who is interested - and so on.
Start early! There's a lot to be said for those people who get all of
their fundraising done so that they can concentrate on their project.
The best way to fundraise is to use a combination of techniques,
fundraising letters, emails, online fundraising, and corporate involvement, etc.
You do not need to know all of your potential donors; it's okay to
cold call on and accept donations from companies you do not know.
Companies in the EV business already have a vested interest, tyres,
batteries, motors, engineering, etc, provided they are not
competitors. Consumer electronics firms might appreciate their
name on your car.
Remember to thank
sponsors in public and in correspondence.
Use those who are close to you as a "mini-committee" to
reach your goal. Ask them to share their Rolodex, send out letters,
Do not discount anyone.
Do not think of fundraising as asking for money or a loan. You are
asking as an advocate for a worthwhile project.
A GOOD LETTER
take on the fundraiser mantle, you should give some thought as to how you are going to reach your
fundraising goal. I understand that raising this much money can be
more than a little intimidating, but you can be successful if you plan ahead, start early, use
the resources given to you, be creative and have fun!
The No. 1 way of raising money
for such projects is through a personal
solicitation letter. This is a letter that you send to persons you know,
wealthy individuals and company bosses and just about anybody else that you can think of.
When approaching companies, be sure to telephone first, to obtain the name
of the Marketing Director. The bigger corporations have a sponsorship
manager or department.
Just sending out letters does not guarantee that you will reach
your fundraising goal, even if you have done your homework and followed up
telephone calls expeditiously. Everybody is a bit different, and you may need to
also think of an alternative way to raising money through corporate
sponsorships and special events.
What makes the solicitation letter so successful is how little time it takes
to send to a lot of people. Once you get your letter written, copied, placed
in the envelope, and sent out - all you have to do is wait about two to
three weeks before you see the first of hopefully many donations come in.
sure to include the URL address to your project Web site, so your potential donors can
see your good work for themselves. Include a pledge form and your URL address on your pledge
and also a return addressed envelope. Send it to everyone your selected
prospects and let them decide on your proposals if they wish to become
involved. Do not hard sell or badger people - either they are
interested, or they are not. Most people are already under pressure at
work, you do not want to make life harder for them. You want to make
an association fun and rewarding. An association with a two way stream
of benefits. They give you funding, you give them an event and spread
their good name.
The key to a successful fundraising campaign is starting early.
Some of the more expensive EV projects, such as land speed record attempts,
may take several years to achieve a goal. Solar car projects
must achieve funding in time to build a car and arive at an event in a state
Therefore, it is
important to get on the phone and get your letters out at the beginning! Keep in mind it usually
takes two to three weeks before the donations or pledges come in. You
will receive many more negative replies, than positive ones. A
negative reply is another step to achieving a positive - Yes.
Writing a Good Letter
The key to a successful letter campaign is writing a good letter. Here
are some suggestions to writing a successful fundraising letter.
Make it personal
We all love to get personal letters, so make sure it is addressed to
the person that matters. Thank them for their interest. Let them know
how the project in proceeding concisely and accurately. Then slide into what the event is about and why you are personally
Everybody loves a chuckle, so use humor where appropriate. Start
your letter with something like "Have you heard that (your team)
has gone off the deep end again. Your team is thinking about competing
in the Darwin to Adelaide this time"
Short and sweet
Try to keep the letter to one page. If it is too long, you
will lose the reader's interest.
Use your honored teammate
Let people know that you are not just competing in this event, but
mention the importance of competition for development of future
technologies and markets.
Very important! What separates this letter from normal letters is
that you are asking them to act. Don't just tell them you are doing
this, but that you need their help.
Suggested giving levels
I recommend suggested giving levels. Include your overall target in your letter,
otherwise sponsors may not know how
much you need to raise. They will need suggested giving levels to
gauge what size donation they think is appropriate to their
circumstances. So, if the event is 2,000 miles, perhaps ask them to
contribute £1 for every mile. Ask them to be a racing suit sponsor (donate
$1000+ and their name will be written on the suit and helmet at the starting line.)
$ 5000 for their name on your vehicle, or website. Be creative. Finally, think
about setting at least a lower giving mark (£20 - £200). Individuals
will not feel comfortable giving more, but if someone does feel generous
Set a deadline
We give you a deadline for your own fundraising, but we recommend
you set a deadline earlier than that. People are always motivated by
deadlines. This way you can assess your fundraising before the real
Let them know how to donate
Tell them the procedure for making a donation. If they are confused,
they are not likely to send a donation, so walk them step-by-step
through the procedure. Be sure to include your URL and land address,
telephone numbers, etc.
Keep a list
Keep a list of all the people you send letters to. You can then
learn from this list and maybe see who
hasn't donated and why. This is important for the next step.
Be prepared to send a reminder
A lot people will get your letter and say, "What a neat idea.
Sure I'll help out," and then set the letter down - only to forget
about it. The best way to send a reminder is to give project updates. Write to your
sponsors and tell them, "Tje project is going
well" and "We're doing such and such this month." Let them know that fundraising is going well,
but you still have a bit farther to go. Ask them nicely if they would
consider making a donation to help you to the next stage. I've seen
reminder letters that have been more successful than original letters
for bringing in the pledges. You can also send an email reminder and
don't forget to thanks them for donating.
Send a thank-you card. It is really nice to receive a note that says that
your donation was important, not to mention that your sponsors probably want
to know how well their money is spent. A good thank-you card will set you up well for the next
event, should you have the stamina.
A FUNDRAISING EVENT
What is the cost to rent the space?
Is there a deposit fee? What are the guidelines for getting it
back? When do you get it back?
Is the cost of the space going to balance out the funds raised?
Look for donated space before renting space. Good places to check
are vehicle show, trade shows, shopping centers, community centers,
schools and universities. Many establishments will be eager to work
with you, especially during a time of the week or season when
business is slow for them.
Set-up and Clean-up
What is the procedure for set-up and clean-up? Is there staff
available to assist you? Or should you ask friends to help you?
Do you need to bring supplies like trash bags, trash cans, ice
buckets, mops, dust clothes? Is the facility equipped with tables,
chairs, a podium, a microphone, speakers and the like? Will you be
required to pay for the rental of these items?
Most facilities, donated or rented, will have staff available to
assist you. There may be a building manager or other contact at your
disposal, but often you will need additional manpower for
setting up/cleaning up and perhaps even coordinating the event.
Be certain to leave the facility in the condition that you found
it, if not in better condition. This way you will be certain to get
your security deposit back and will be able to use the facility in
Food and Beverage
Are you bound to use an on-site caterer or a recommended insured
caterer? Can you bring donated food and beverage?
Can alcohol be served as one pleases or is a permit required to
Try to choose a location where you may serve donated food and
beverage items. Have everyone bring something or solicit donations
from catering companies and restaurants - this will reduce your
It is unlikely that a
shopping complexe will let you sell food or beverages, as this is where they make their money. If you must
offer refreshments, keep it light.
Remember, if you plan to serve alcohol at an event always serve
food. If people drink, they should designate a driver.
Is the facility equipped with a microphone, podium, TV, VCR, CD
player, radio, loud speakers and stage. Is there lighting? Is there
a fee involved for use of AV equipment? How much will it cost?
If you plan to have a band or DJ, determine their equipment and
space needs as well as their usual set-up time. Many DJs bring their
own CDs, loud speakers, cords and microphones, but may require a
long table. Facilities like hotels have an AV department that will
service your needs, but fees can be costly. Again, aim to get AV
services donated or discounted. Try recruiting a fledgling DJ
service or local band that is just getting started - they may be
more apt to donate or discount their services.
Where are you going to make your money? Are you going to charge a
flat fee, ask for contributions or both? What money will you have to
take out of your pocket to support the event? Are you going to hold
an auction or a raffle? How many people are you going to invite?
Realistically, how many do you think will show up? Does the facility
accommodate the number of people you hope to attract? What time can
you start setting-up and what time must you vacate the premises?
Plan a budget and itemize each cost. Make sure the money you
charge is reasonable. To increase profit, plan an auction or raffle.
Allow people to purchase raffle tickets prior to the event and make
ticket sales available to those attending and not attending the
If you must guarantee a number with the facility try to hold off
until a few days before the event. Write down all the people you
plan to invite to the event - do not just make a mental list - so
you will be certain not to forget anyone.
When reserving the space, give yourself enough time to set up and
clean up. You will not want to rack up charges for additional hours.
In summary, there are great deals to be made on event space, but beware
of hidden costs. Plan in advance, and if you need guidance in planning an
event, please contact the chapter staff. We are all eager to be you turn
your idea into a smashing success. Good luck!
all else fails,
consider asking professionals to assist your cause. They may offer
their services at a discount. My experience, is that most
professionals would not take on this kind of project, simply because the
sums that need to be raised, would not make it worth their while giving
their expensive office space and staff to the project. However,
there may be some kind souls out there willing to input their time by
way of sponsorship. You never know. Accountants and lawyers
frequently give of their time.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals
(AFP) represents 26,000
members in 172 chapters in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China
working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education, and
AFP believes that to guarantee human freedom and social creativity,
people must have the right to freely and voluntarily form organizations to
meet perceived needs, advocate causes, and seek funds to support these
activities. To guarantee these rights, AFP's purposes are to:
Foster development and growth of fundraising professionals committed
to the preserving and enhancing philanthropy.
Establish a code of ethics and professional practices.
Require member adherence to a professional code of ethical standards
Provide training opportunities for fundraising professionals.
Implement programs that ensure cultural and social diversity in our
membership and leadership.
Collect, research, publish, and disseminate historical, managerial,
and technical information on philanthropy and philanthropic fundraising.
Promote public understanding of philanthropy and philanthropic
Conduct activities that maintain and develop legislation favorable to
Enlist, organize, and support members to achieve our purposes.
Foster international cooperation, knowledge exchange, and education
among fundraising professionals worldwide.
Use all necessary and proper means to accomplish our purposes.
Provide a valid and reliable certification program for fundraising
FOUNDATION FOR PHILANTHROPY
& CAREER DEVELOPMENT
MARKETPLACE & BOOKSTORE
PHILANTHROPY DAY & AFP AWARDS
fundraising is a year long task. Don't wait until late in the year to
start. Get organized and divide up work so that it doesn't become
overwhelming. Expect to get more people saying no than yes. Think of it
as treasure hunting. You will get contributions and some will be modest,
some will be significant!
remember, that these are just suggestions of things I've seen work in past
taste for adventure
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