The Rewards & Challenges of Fundraising
For the Bayou Builders, fundraising has been an integral part of every season. We are proud to be a community-based team. It allows us to bring in students from various backgrounds who might not otherwise have the opportunity to know and work with each other. They develop strong relationships with one another and stretch the limits of what they believe to be possible. However, in being a community-based team it means we do not have the financial backing of a potential after-school budget or other primary funding source. We are enormously fortunate to have our local children's museum and university to help us with storage and alternating meeting spaces. As a non-profit, the Louisiana Children's Discovery Center (LCDC) assists us with managing the money we raise. They are the team's true advocate within the community, assisting team members in securing public speaking engagements, providing us with marketing space on their website, and in helping us further solicit donations. LCDC is also gracious to let us use their facility and staff for one evening each year to host our annual Family Lego Night fundraiser.
Our team members are the driving force behind our fundraising and community outreach efforts. There is a rich amount of real world experience to be gained when students are given the opportunity to work together to come up with a fundraising plan to meet the team's needs. In addition to instilling a richer sense of ownership, having team members in the forefront propels them to build on and utilize their innate creativity and determination to look beyond what others feel might be possible. It is also the prime way to assist young people in becoming comfortable with public speaking and answering questions. Prior to our fall competitions each year, we look for opportunities to have the team participate in facilitating outreach events where they will be challenged to work with a variety of different people within the community. It is truly humbling each season to watch how these young people fully embrace their role on the team and step up into leadership roles. One of the best reflections I've heard recently came from a parent observing her once reserved child speak with ease about the robot game and attachment engineering to the principal of our local high school during an event. "Who is this child?!"
Over the past three years we have had varying degrees of success with the following fundraisers.
Family Lego Night
Adult Fan of Lego Night
Hosting Lego challenge events at Learning Express Toys of Mandeville, Chick fil' A, Santa Fe Cattle Company and Barnes & Noble.
A FUNdraising event at Safari Quest Laser Tag
Raffle of an Apple Watch
Community garage sale
Multiple public speaking engagements to request monetary funding from our local service organizations
The best way to propel the message and benefits of involvement in FIRST is to put the team members in the forefront to share their enthusiasm and growth.