Funding Your DiscoverHover Project
© June 2004 World Hovercraft Organization
The DiscoverHover One hovercraft can
be built for approximately $1,000US. About half this
amount is the cost of the hovercraft's engine.
Much, or even all, of this expense can be covered
by seeking donations of both money and materials from
civic-minded businesses and service organizations
in your community, as well as from individuals, friends
and family members.
- A) Parts and materials
specifically for hovercraft
(propeller, skirt material, skirt
Rather than leave you to your own
resources to track down these specialized materials,
we have set up an online ordering system for you
through the DiscoverHover website. In order to
assure that you receive quality materials, your
orders will initially be directed to reputable
vendors through DiscoverHover. As we develop a
comprehensive list of vendors, we will add them
to the purchasing system so that you may order
directly from the vendor.
The DiscoverHover fundraising
guidelines below will help you secure financial
donations and sponsorships to cover the cost of
these specialized materials.
- B. General purpose
(hovercraft engine, wood, Styrofoam, bolts, nails,
These are materials sold by a wide
variety of businesses for many purposes. Even
your hovercraft engine - an industrial riding
lawnmower engine - is available from Tecumseh,
Yamaha and many other dealers, as well as from
most lawn and garden centers. The DiscoverHover
fundraising guidelines below will help you find
local businesses willing to donate these materials
for your project.
To learn more about locating
an appropriate engine read The
hovercraft engine below.
Make a list
The first step in planning any fundraising
campaign is to identify your potential donors. Plan
a "brainstorming" session for everyone involved
in your DiscoverHover project, and make a specific
list of all the individuals, businesses and organizations
you can think of who might be willing to donate money
or materials for your project.
You might also want to invite students
and instructors from other departments in your school
or university who have experience in fundraising.
For instance, has the school band raised money for
uniforms? Have other classes raised funds for a special
project? They can contribute valuable ideas to your
DiscoverHover fundraising campaign.
It's also a good idea to involve your
school's business, marketing and public relations
classes and clubs, along with business clubs such
as Future Business Leaders of America and Junior Achievement
in the USA, or similar organizations in other countries.
We have listed below some high-potential
categories to help you start your list but, when brainstorming,
be creative and do not rule out anything or anyone.
• Parents, family and friends
• Business owners in your locale
• National / multi-national corporations
• Community service organizations
• Local, state and national associations and
foundations (especially those of which you or someone
you know is a member)
Parents, family and friends
It is best to start close to home with
donations from family, friends and neighbors when
asking for financial donations. These are the people
most likely to support you in building a hovercraft
because they have the most interest in investing in
You should, of course, approach parents,
grandparents and close friends with a personal appeal,
but also consider a letter campaign to other relatives,
former teachers and professors, former employers and
co-workers, etc. Send a detailed letter explaining
the DiscoverHover program and what you hope to accomplish
Ask for a specific amount of money.
$50 is a reasonable amount, but for those with whom
you have a close relationship, $100 is not too much
to ask. For peers and fellow students, $25 is a more
You may want to divide your letter recipients
into several groups and send a custom letter to each
group based on your relationship with them or upon
the amount of money you are asking for.
When writing your letter, make it personal.
Try to capture your feelings about why you are involved
in DiscoverHover and why it is important. Keep the
letter short (two pages maximum; preferably one) and
include information about DiscoverHover and the World
Hovercraft Organization, which can be printed directly
from www. DiscoverHover.org and www.WorldHovercraft.org.
Consider that if twenty students
each receive only $50 in donations from their families
and acquaintances, you will have successfully raised
funds to cover the entire cost of your DiscoverHover
Business owners in your locale
are often more likely to support your school hovercraft
project than are large corporations. When asking for
financial donations, the key is to make a linkage
between the owner of the business and you or someone
close to you, or to an organization to which you belong.
The first place to start is your own
employer or your parents' employers, often-overlooked
sources of possible support. Next, list all the businesses
that recognize you as a customer: your hairstylist,
your favorite restaurant, your local grocery, etc.
But don't stop there. Many local businesses
donate funds to student and community projects on
a regular basis. Your city's Chamber of Commerce and
your local library can provide you with a list of
local businesses and the owners' contact information.
You may want to approach local
businesses with a letter first, explaining your DiscoverHover
program and what you hope to accomplish, and enclosing
a pledge form; then you should follow up with a telephone
call. Even if you drop in unexpectedly on business
owners to ask for a donation, be prepared to give
them written material that explains your DiscoverHover
project and how it will benefit you. Asking for $100
or more from local businesses is not unusual.
Many of the materials needed to build the DiscoverHover
One hovercraft are sold by local businesses for a
wide variety of purposes. Businesses are often more
willing to donate products than they are to make a
Look through the Parts List for DiscoverHover
One and create a list of all the businesses in your
area that carry those parts. In general, the most
likely sources for "in-kind" donations of
materials for your project are:
• Machine shops
• Automotive supply stores
• Home improvement stores
• Hardware stores
• Lawn and garden centers (a good source for
your hovercraft engine)
• Farm centers / agricultural suppliers (another
good source for your hovercraft engine)
• Small engine distributors
• Industrial engine suppliers
• Engineering firms
• Discount retailers (such as Wal-Mart)
When approaching businesses for either monetary or
materials contributions, always let them know what
benefits they will receive for supporting your DiscoverHover
school hovercraft project. Both businesses and individuals
may be able to receive a tax deduction for contributing
to your project.
Smaller businesses, in particular, are
always interested in free publicity. Some of the ways
you could provide this free publicity are:
• Mentioning the company in all
press releases/news stories about your project
• Placing the company name and/or logo on your
DiscoverHover One hovercraft
• Wearing tee-shirts or caps with the company
name and/or logo at all public appearances of your
hovercraft, and in all photos of your hovercraft
• Placing the company name and/or logo on your
school's website as a DiscoverHover project supporter
The hovercraft engine
To meet standard hovercraft racing regulations,
your DiscoverHover One hovercraft must be constructed
with one or more unmodified 4-cycle engine(s) with
a combined rating of up to 12.5 horsepower (9.3 Kw).
These are light industrial engines, used for a variety
of applications: lawn mowers, water pumps, posthole
diggers, concrete levelers etc. The cost of a 12.5
hp (9.3 Kw) engine is typically $400-$600US.
You may use a single engine, or more
than one engine, as long as the combined horsepower
does not exceed 12.5 hp or 9.3 Kw.
These engines are produced by a number
of manufacturers and are available from Tecumseh,
Yamaha and many other dealers. They are also available
at lawn and garden centers and agricultural/farm suppliers
such as Rural King, or from small engine distributors.
* To find a dealer in your area who
carries 12.5 hp (9.3 Kw) 4-cycle light industrial
||Look in your local
telephone directory Yellow Pages under the following
||- Engines – Gasoline
- Engines – Small
- Lawn & Garden – Equipment & Supplies
- Lawn Mowers
* To find a local dealer online, start with the
following manufacturers' web sites:
Go to the Tecumseh
||1. Click on "Customer Service"
2. Click on "To find your nearest Tecumseh
3. Enter your location information and click on
"Find" for a list of local dealers.
Go to the Briggs
and Stratton web site:
||1. Click on "select your region
and language" and click on the proper selection
2. At the bottom left of the page, click on "Service
3. Click on "Engines"
4. Type in your location information and click
on the arrow for a list of local dealers.
Go to the Honda
||1. Click on "Dealers/Distributors"
for a map and list of dealers in the USA
Go to the Kawasaki
||1. Click on "Dealer Locator"
2. Select "Small Engines"
3. Enter your location information and click "Submit"
for a list of dealers in the USA.
Go to the Kohler
||1. Click on
"Engines, Generators & Rental Services"
2. Click on "Kohler Engines"
3. Click on "Sales & Service"
4. Type in your location information in the USA,
Canada or Outside USA section and click on "Go"
for a list of local dealers.
/ multi-national corporations
Even though it is easier to approach
locally-owned businesses than it is to approach large
national and multi-national corporations, do not rule
out this source of funding, particular if you or someone
you know is acquainted with an individual who works
for a large corporation, such as BP Petroleum, Coca-Cola,
etc. If you have that personal contact, that is obviously
the place to start.
When approaching a large corporation,
if you do not have a personal contact, the most effective
approach is to send a letter to the president of the
corporation and send a copy to the manager of a dealer,
branch or distributor in your locale. The letter should
explain the DiscoverHover project, direct the recipients
to the DiscoverHover web site, and detail exactly
what amount of financial support or exactly what materials
you are requesting.
The next step is to follow up
with a phone call to the local manager. Local and
regional distributors often have funds available to
support local projects.
Community service organizations
Many people in business are interested
in helping students prepare for the working world.
Community service organizations in your city are made
up of professional and career-oriented individuals
who will be particularly interested in helping you
with your project.
If you aren't familiar with the different
community service organizations in your area, contact
your local Chamber of Commerce for a list of the names
and phone numbers of the president and the program
chairperson for each organization in your community.
Some of the organizations you could
• Rotary Club
• Lions Club
• Optimist Club
• Religious organizations
The women on your DiscoverHover team
will be particularly interested in contacting the
following women's organizations:
• Business and Professional
• Zonta International
• Junior League
Once you have compiled a list of service
organizations, contact the program chairperson and
offer to give a presentation at one of their meetings.
Organizations that have weekly meetings, usually at
lunch, are constantly on the lookout for interesting
presentations, and your call will be most welcome.
Your presentation should detail exactly
how the DiscoverHover project will further your education
and prepare you to become a productive citizen. As
their name implies, community service organizations
are dedicated to giving service to the community.
They organize primarily for that purpose and are eager
to support projects in the community that will make
a difference. Working with students on projects that
will help them become productive citizens will have
high appeal for members.
At the end of your presentation, be
sure to specifically ask for support or assistance
from the members.
When you contact these organizations,
if they are not interested in having you give a presentation,
be sure to ask if they would be interested in supporting
your DiscoverHover project.
Local, state and national associations
Your school, and organizations to which
you belong, often have funds already set aside for
student projects such as DiscoverHover. This is the
place to start. Make an appointment with your school's
principal or your university's president, explain
the DiscoverHover project, explain what you need for
it to succeed, and ask if there are programs available
that can be directed to this kind of project.
Next, your school's physics, science,
engineering and technology departments can direct
you to local, state, national and international associations
and foundations who regularly support projects such
as DiscoverHover with donations, grants or other forms
To cite examples, the Transportation
Technology class at North Vigo High School in Terre
Haute, Indiana USA secured a $1,000 grant from Indiana
Chances for Youth to build their hovercraft. Students
at Indiana State University received assistance from
the Society of Automotive Engineers and the Society
of Manufacturing Engineers to build their DiscoverHover
University public service centers and
academic departments frequently have programs that
grant money to students participating in innovative
projects or programs, particularly if you are earning
credit for your DiscoverHover project.
Fundraising through publicity
The more people you make aware of the
fact that you are seeking funds, the more likely you
are to secure the funds you need. In addition to the
one-on-one fundraising efforts described above, you'll
also want to use publicity to make large numbers of
people aware of your DiscoverHover project and of
the fact that you need sponsors in order for it to
It is relatively easy to get mainstream
media coverage for DiscoverHover. The public is fascinated
by hovercraft and the media are usually eager to publish
or broadcast hovercraft-related stories.
The following ideas will help you kick
off your DiscoverHover media campaign:
• Work with public relations
classes to submit press releases about your DiscoverHover
project to your local and state newspapers and television
and radio stations. Be sure your press releases
notify the public that you are inviting individuals,
businesses and organizations to sponsor or donate
to your project. Your press release should also
include a short list of specific materials that
you hope to have donated.
• Publish an announcement in
your high school or college alumni newsletter explaining
your DiscoverHover project and asking for both financial
and specific material contributions.
• Place a notice on your school's
web site and your local school district's web site,
announcing your DiscoverHover project and asking
Ask for referrals
The people you speak to as you solicit
funding for your DiscoverHover school hovercraft project
are your most important source for ideas. Whether
or not an individual makes a contribution, be sure
to sincerely thank each one for their time. Then,
ask them if they know of anyone who might be willing
to help you. Ask every person with whom you speak
to refer you to other individuals, businesses or organizations
that might consider a contribution of money or materials
to your project. Also ask them for permission to use
their name as a source when you approach their referrals.
Send us your success stories!
We invite you to send us your fundraising
ideas, stories about your fundraising efforts, and
press releases and news stories about your project
so that we can share them on the DiscoverHover web
site with other participants throughout the world.
Submit your material to:
DiscoverHover Public Relations/Marketing Director