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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