Wednesday, June 15, 2011
This was a great topic of conversation last week at the FTC Partner's conference - worth summarizing again for those of you talking to potential sponsors.
FIRST and FTC appeal on a variety of levels. Number one is that FIRST exists solely to inspire the next generation of technology leaders.... period. We have the unique position of being just that simple and transparent. We have no other motivation. Funding that goes to FIRST is laser focused on that goal.
Beyond that the trick is listening to potential funders. FIRST works on a variety of levels and the discussion can be tailored to the potential donor's concerns.
On a global level, future technologists are critical to solve the world's really big issues. Nationally (any nation) is concerned about their place in the world among others in terms of global competitiveness. Greater percentages of technically adept citizens leads to healthier economies. Regionally (by state, county, or town) the same thing applies - specifically related to quality of life.
On a corporate level FIRST is a great option when organizations want to put effort into future workforce development. In technology driven companies this is easy to see - they need more engineers to keep growing. In non-technology based companies it's also important. Who will buy their products if the population is working at low skill/pay jobs? An educated, technically skilled workforce earns more, and spends more.
On a personal level FIRST programs directly impact the lives of students. This is a great discussion to have with sponsors who want to get their employees involved in organizations they support. More so than almost any other organization, investing in FIRST allows companies to not just give money, but to also provide their employees and their employee's kids a great way to give back and grow.
Finally, FIRST is the only STEM based non-profit with a hands-on focus that kids can get into from kindergarten through high school. Like other sports models FIRST provides age appropriate challenges allowing kids to matriculate through to college. Unlike other sports models this is something they can all "go pro" in.
Pretty good list - thanks to our Partners and key Sponsors for developing this last week!
A couple other hints include -
Use the kids, they can "sell" FIRST better than the adults!
Leverage existing Sponsors, they want FIRST to grow and have already taken the leap
Realize companies have budgets for this type of thing - you're not necessarily asking them to dig deeper, in some cases you're really just asking them to allocate differently