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Monday, January 5, 2015

Robotics Team Fundraising

by Andrea Lo (CEO, Piggybackr)

Are you a robotics team looking to fundraise online? Do you need help with VRC or FRC fundraising? Here are some tips to help you get started with crowdfunding!

I gave a webinar for robotics teams as a part of the FIRST robotics fundraising toolkit because their teams needed some robotics fundraising ideas. Below are 5 questions I'm most often asked about fundraising for robotics. I hope these answers can help your team!

I. What do robotics teams use Piggybackr to raise money for?

FRC Team 980, the ThunderBots has successfully raised over $13,000 over three seasons for parts, materials, and supplies for building their robot.

FIRST teams have used Piggybackr to raise money to cover costs for:

  • Robot Parts
  • Build Season
  • Robotics Competition Costs (e.g. First Robotics Competitions FRC, Vex Robotics Competitions, and First Lego League FLL)
  • Registration Fees
  • Travel Expenses
  • Capital to Start a New Team
  • Off-season Projects
  • Capital Equipment
  • Robotics Tournament Costs
  • and one of our buy a 3D printer!

II. What makes Piggybackr great for robotics team fundraising?

1. We're designed for team fundraising.
On Piggybackr, you can easily invite your team, contact them, and see how they are doing. You'll be able to see how much effort each team member is putting into the fundraiser and how many emails they have sent out to potential donors.

Piggybackr effort points

2. We help you put sponsorship packages together with a few clicks.
You don't sell anything. We even have an option for offering sponsors a logo on your robot.

3. We motivate your team members and measure their progress in more ways than one.
It's not just about how much someone has raised. It includes effort, # of emails sent, and even badge level.

4. We're safe for users of ALL ages and for use in schools.
Piggybackr is the ONLY fundraising website that is certified compliant with the Children Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which protects young people under 13.

5. We guide you through the process.
Running your first crowdfunding can be confusing, but it doesn't have to be. We've built into our product all the lessons we've learned helping people successfully fundraise for the past two years. We have email templates, TO-DO lists, smart notifications, sample phone scripts. We allow businesses to upload their logos onto your pages, and we even track how many views and clicks they get!

Piggybackr Dashboard Throughout your campaign, you'll receive smart notifications to let you know exactly what to do, when. With the click of a button, you can message team members who might need a nudge.

III. What are some examples of successful robotics teams?

Team 980 is one of our favorite teams, and they have reached their fundraising goal every year for the past three years, raising over $13,000 total.

First Robotics FRC team 980 Fundraiser

The Green Stormgears (Massachusetts FLL champions) raised over $8,665 (108% of their goal!) to attend the FIRST World Festival in St. Louis, Missouri

FLL team Green Stormgears

Northside Robotics (FRC Team 4787) in Chicago raised over $4,400 including a few sponsorships from local businesses!

Northside Robotics Fundraiser

Shockwave Robotics from New Hampshire got specific and raised $651 for a 3D printer.

Shockwave Robotics Fundraiser

IV. How do I get started with crowdfunding on Piggybackr?

1. Create your account. Create your page on by clicking on the orange "Get Started Free" button and filling in the neccessary fields.

2. Fill out your page. Upload a picture of your team or robot and tell your donors about yourself and what your team is fundraising for. Set your sponsorship packages for your donors to show them your appreciation.

3. Invite your team. Invite your team to join the fundraiser and raise money together. The more team members you have to help, the more money you'll raise.

4. Promote your page. Let all your supporters know about your fundraiser. Send everyone an email telling them about your robot and ask them for their help.

Piggybackr fundraising letter template We have a great, proven built-in email template. Or, you can get creative and write your own!

V. What are some tips for robotics fundraising online?

1. Leadership. Designate one person to be the team leader. Whether it's an adult mentor, your fundraiser chair, or a motivated student member, there needs to be a leader keeping it all together.

2. Teamwork. You have the team working together to build a robot, you should have the team working together to fund things too. Make sure each member has their own goal and pulls their weight. One person can't do it alone. Fundraising is about reaching as many people as possible.

3. Ask for help. You won't get donations by just making a page and posting it on Facebook. You have to ask people (your friends, family, your parent's friends, your parent's friend's friend's) personally to help. Do that via email, social media, and plenty of blog updates.

4. Spread the word repeatedly. Don't quit. Studies show that people need to see something 7 times before they act. Don't be the person who quits on try #3.

People want to help! Here's a quote from a donor to prove it.

When robots take over the world like in Terminator III, I want Evan on my side.

— Kevin on why he gave

Friday, February 28, 2014

Piggybackr Crowdfunding T-Shirt-A-Day Giveaway

It’s time for another Piggybackr t-shirt giveaway! Enter to win by liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter @Piggybackr, or tweeting about our giveaway for chances to win. You will have a chance to win everyday from February 28 to March 10th. 

Please visit our Facebook page or view this blog post to see a list of daily winners!

Courtesy of Camp BizSmart, 2013.
Daily Winners 
*Winners, please email Your full name, Mailing Address, and T-shirt Size.

Fri 2/28 - Patrick Quek
Sat 3/01 - Issac Murphy
Sun 3/02 - Elsa Khwaja
Mon 3/03 - Deb Ortiz Hernandez
Tue 3/04Phil Randall
Wed 3/05 - Laura Bailey
Thu 3/06 - Jim Knoell
Fri 3/07 - Delia Biezunski
Sat 3/08 - Chris Harris
Sun 3/09 - Julie Tardi
Mon 3/10 - Stephanie Galbraith

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winners of the 2013 Piggybackr One Million Leaders Challenge!

In November 2013, we challenged young people and communities nationwide to take the lead and raise money on Piggybackr during the holiday season as a part of the Piggybackr Million Leaders Challenge.

We challenged YOU to raise funds for something that mattered to you and each week leading up to the deadline, we awarded teams with cool prizes.

Our challenge attracted attention from people all over the country. Your stories were featured on the news and on TV. Together we inspired many to take the lead.

But most importantly, you truly inspired us by raising money for causes that mattered to you: Rebuilding New Orleans, self-publishing a book, building robots, rocking out in marching band, and even volunteering to help others in need. Here's a complete list of the winners:

Week 2 (Meet & Greet with Selena Gomez): 
Ana-Rose Hart raising funds for a new power wheelchair 

Week 3 (Professional photo shoot by SmartShoot): 
Milpitas High School Student Council raising funds for their annual canned food drive benefiting the community

Week 4 (Signed Adrian Peterson Football):
Bakersfield College Drumline raising funds to get to World Championships in Dayton, Ohio

Week 5 (Chat with Michele Markey, Kauffman Foundation Fastrac):
Kiran Rao raising funds to go on a summer volunteer service trip to Guatemala as a part of the Young Dreamers Network

Week 6 (Chat with Cordell Carter, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation):
Lower 9th Ward Village, a nonprofit in New Orleans that serves as a hub for the community can access more resources to become self-sufficient and sustain their quality of life post Hurricane Katrina

Week 7 (1-on-1 with Kevin Harrington, original Shark Tank Investor):
Connell Wise raising funds to publish a new book on how to do accounting for BitCoins. 

Grand Prize Winner Voted by our Panel of Judges (Leaders of the Year 2013):
Congratulations to the Buchanan Bird Brains, a FIRST Robotics Team from Clovis, CA raising funds to build robots and inspire young people to get into STEM.

Last but not least, a special thank you to our judges and community partners. Congratulation everyone - until next year.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

School Fundraising Ideas for 2014

It's school fundraising season again. Here are some fresh new ideas to revitalize your school's efforts.

It’s a new year and that means our favorite school activities are just around the corner:  prom, graduation, and elections.  As exciting as those events are, they also bring headaches for all the students and advisers trying to figure out, yet again, how to raise enough funds to cover costs.

The reality is that everyone is incredibly busy.  Students are stretched thin between demanding co-curricular activities, homework, and social lives. 

Kendall Ciesemier, knows a thing or two about fundraising.  At age 11 she started a non-profit called Kids Caring For Kids, which to this day organizes fundraisers in schools around the nation. Her tip is to keep a fundraiser dead simple.  They also have to be “cool” in some way and make students feel like they’re part of a bigger sense of community.

Not only are you competing with busy schedules, there is also fierce competition from all the different groups on campus. The reality is people are tired of labor intensive and low-margin fundraisers.  You can only have so many restaurant nights.  You can only buy so many candy bars.  And you can only get your car washed many times.

Although there isn't any way to magically make money appear, you can look for new approaches to fundraising.  Here are seven ideas that might help you revitalize fundraising in your school.

Used Text Book & Prep Book Sale
What do most students have in excess?  Prep books- for SATs, AP Classes, SAT 2, and so on.  Those books are used just once and then discarded when the test is over.  Never mind that they contain pencil scribbles – these books are undoubtedly valuable to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  Host a 2-3 weeklong drive to collect used textbooks and prep books and throw a used book sale during lunch. Seems like a good way to help a student save a buck, maybe even get into college, and maybe even get into college.

Pie Auction on Pi Day
This year, Pi Day (March 14) falls on a Friday.  Celebrate a little bit of math and fundraising fun by throwing a Pi Day Pie Auction.  Students can pay $1-$2 to pie their fellow students, $5 for teachers and maybe $20 will get you the Principal. To create affordable and quick pies, use paper plates with whip cream as the pie.  Throw in some other pie or 3.14 themed goodies and you’ll have something cool for people to talk about for at least a day.

Used Clothing Sale
High school students are always outgrowing their clothes or moving on to the latest fashion trends.  Capitalize on the “vintage” clothing movement by hosting a school clothing sale.  You can include prom dresses too!  Spend a couple weeks collecting gently worn clothing from students and then open up the clothing sale to the entire school community.  Have left over clothes?  Donate all the remaining things to a local shelter or Goodwill. 

Adopt a Restaurant
Encourage each club or class to adopt a favorite local restaurant each semester. Have students pledge to help the restaurant with marketing, social media, and throw all meetings and events at the restaurant.  In exchange the restaurant should pledges a couple hundred dollars -or maybe thousands - sponsorship.  It’s a win-win – students learn business, share their social media-savvy and businesses get the word out.

We’re so used to selling things or collecting dues within the confines of our school.  What about engaging our communities outside of school?  Tap into the power of the Internet to reach grandparents, mentors, relatives, and businesses to do some grassroots online fundraising.  Several people giving $25 or $50 online can really add up. And you’d be surprised how many want to help if they are just asked! 

Throw a something-A-thon
These things aren’t just for cute elementary school students.  Host a jog-a-thon, spell-a-thon, dance-a-thon, walk-a-thon, swim-a-thin, or whatever-a-thon.  Get all the athletes involved, have prizes for winners, and have family and friends pledge money for each lap, word, or minute.  See students have fun and stay fit too!

Recycle and compost programs
See if your school will let student groups run school wide recycling or composting.  Each week or month, a different group can sign up to manage on-campus recycle bins deliver it to the local recycle center and keep the cash.  Want to be even more eco-friendly?  Consider having students make compost and sell the soil to the community. 

This post is written by Andrea Lo, CEO of Piggybackr, and originally appeared in National Honor Society's January 2014 issue of Leadership for Student Activities magazine.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sports Fundraising Tips

Are you a sports team? Here are some tips to help your team fundraise!

Fundraising is NOT the reason you got into team sports. In a perfect world, equipment would never break, jerseys would never get worn out, and airlines would jump at the chance to sponsor out-of-town tournaments. Considering that airlines would also jump at the idea of charging you for putting down your tray table, fundraising is probably here to stay.

The good news is that fundraising can be fun. As a team that regularly works together on the field or court toward a common goal, you already have the skills and traits that are hallmarks of effective fundraising.

Having coached thousands of sports teams of all ages to raise hundreds of dollars through online fundraising on Piggybackr, we are here to share 5 tips to help you win at fundraising like it’s just another game. Whether you hold an online fundraiser, car wash, or candy bar drive and need to raise $5,000 or $100,000, the principles of effective fundraising remain the same.

Just like having a strong coach is integral to winning a game, having one person dedicated to leading a fundraiser is crucial. From communicating the fundraiser’s progress, recognizing members doing a great job, to encouraging those in need of help, it keeps the fundraiser rolling towards its goal.

There is nobody better at this than the coach. However, if it’s not possible or practical for the coach to act as the fundraising leader, we recommend that the leader be a parent or a particularly responsible team member. But it’s critical that the coach is kept informed and involved. Players take their cues and look up to to their coach. They’l bel more enthusiastic and motivated if he or she is.

Your team shows up to every game and “gives 110%,” right?  Everyone on your team is naturally competitive and leveraging that competitive drive is a great way to raise more money.

Make sure you give each team member an individual fundraising requirement so that each person is held personally accountable. Foster a sense of competition by recognizing the highest-performing team members every week, which can serve to encourage everyone to pulling their weight.

Offer up prizes to whoever raises the most money, brings in the most donors, or sells the most product. No matter how little the prize, people of all ages genuinely get excited about winning something. Prizes can be as simple as a day off practice, first dibs on bus seats to away games, or an after practice snack. We’ve seen grown men get excited about $1 prizes. Everybody likes winning.

Whether you’re raising funds for day-to-day operations or tournament costs, make sure the entire team understands the tangible reasons of why they need to fundraise and what’s at stake if goals aren’t met.

Whether it’s practice facility rental fees, league dues, equipment maintenance, or scholarships, if the team understands what’s at stake, they’ll better understand why doing their part matters to themselves and to the team. While fun competition is healthy, it’s important to remind the team that – as with everything you do – this is a do or die team effort.

Many athletes thrive under pressure. It’s the same with fundraising. Make sure you set clear expectations and concrete time deadlines for your fundraising efforts. Whether it’s a day long event or 3 week long online fundraiser, deadlines provide constraints and prevent burnout. You could be fundraising all year round or have 2 well executed fundraisers – we believe the later is more effective.

Remember that you’re a team that relies on each other to get things done all the time and this is no different. The very same skills that drive your team through every tough conditioning session or playoff game are what will drive you toward success in raising the funds you need to continue doing what you love.

And while you didn’t get into this for the fundraising, know that seeing your team shatter its fundraising record can be just as satisfying as a Gatorade after a well-fought victory, because now you can have your Gatorade and buy more of it too!

Piggybackr is a team fundraising platform designed to help members of all ages and experience levels raise funds in an easy, fun, and effective way online. Get your team up and running in less than 5 mins and start raising an average of $76 per donor rather than selling 76 candy bars per donor. Since launching nationwide in 2013, Piggybackr has helped thousands of teams in 47 states reach their funding goals. If you’re interested in fundraising online with your team, visit

This article appeared originally on the TeamSnap Blog on Oct 14. 

by Andrea Lo and Reed Kavner

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Student Fundraisers - Winners of the Million Leaders Challenge

We're excited to announce the first 2 weekly winners of the Piggybackr One Million Leaders Challenge. Learn more about the challenge ending Jan 3rd, 2014 here.

Winner of a signed Adrian Peterson NFL football is the Bakersfield College Drumline Team in pursuit of raising $70,000 to get to the CGI Percussions World Championships in Ohio.

They thrilled us with their FIERCENESS and passion.  One member claimed "Drumline is an escape, it is my activity, the thing I spend my time on, and my talent! Please join me on my journey!"

Winner of a professional team photo opt from SmartShoot was Milpitas High School Student Body team lead by Natasha Gangal, their ASB secretary.  We'll post better pictures after their photo shoot ;)

Their project was collecting canned food for their local food pantry.  Their goal was to raise $4,000 or 6,000 cans.  They brought part of their food drive online and exceeding their goal by over 300%.  

Congratulations to the winners.  There are just over 3 weeks left to join the Piggybackr One Million Leaders Challenge.  Remaining weekly prizes include a meeting with Shark Tank Investor Kevin Harrington or Cordell Carter of The Bill and Melinda Gates.

Learn more here:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top Online Resources for Kids: How to Raise More Online

The internet has so many tools and apps to help your crowdfunding efforts. The resources available are endless. So where do you start? Here are a few websites and apps we think are super useful when it comes to online fundraising, especially online fundraising for kids.

Utilizing these tools will make your fundraising experience not only easy, but also fun!

Sharing on Social Media:

The most effective fundraising tactic, is sending emails. But don’t forget the power of social media. Sharing your campaign via social networks will make your campaign more personable and genuine.

  • FUNDRAISING TIP: Even if you don’t create a Facebook Page for your fundraiser, make sure to post a link to your campaign on your timeline, friend’s timelines, and other Facebook Pages and Groups.
  • — Tweet about how your campaign is going, ask your followers and friends for retweets, and follow new people so they can follow you back.
  • — Share your photos, and make sure to use hashtags (like #piggybackr) so your pics are easier to find.

Photo Editing: - PicMonkey is a great online photo editor with color filters, textures, and more. No download necessary, and it’s all free. Sharing your fundraising ideas or updates through photos is powerful because photos generate 53% more likes on Facebook.

Video editing: – Great social-sharing environment for video hosting – you can add captions and annotation that directly links to your campaign. Also, you can integrate your Youtube video on a variety of social media platforms such as Facebook and Tumblr.

And the greatest part about Youtube – they have their very own video editor! You can add music, enhance clips, add effects, and more!

Emailing: – Boomerang allows you to send emails at a specific time of day, and schedule email reminders. It works within your Gmail, which makes it even easier to utilize.

Getting Sponsorships:  - Contact local newspapers here – maybe they’re looking for a fundraiser/cause just like yours to feature in their paper!

Fundraising isn’t easy, and fundraising online can be challenging because you don’t know where to start. Piggybackr is a great fundraising resource for young people and those new to fundraising, but don’t forget to utilize the resources above too.

Sending warm fundraising wishes your way!

Alicia Li is a sophomore at UC Berkeley interested in consulting and product management. She is currently researching how consumer elective pricing affects consumer decision making at the Haas School of Business. Interning at Piggybackr has allowed her to understand the power of technology to inspire and empower youth, and she plans to align this mission with her future goals. Her hobbies include hiking, traveling, discovering new music, and trying new foods.