::: Funding Your DiscoverHover Project
© June 2004 World Hovercraft Organization

::: Introduction

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.

::: Fundraising Guidelines

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 your future.

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 by participating.

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 affordable figure.

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 One project!

Business owners in your locale

Financial donations
Local businesses 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.

Materials donations
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 financial contribution.

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 engines:

  Look in your local telephone directory Yellow Pages under the following categories:
    - 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 web site:
    1. Click on "Customer Service"
2. Click on "To find your nearest Tecumseh dealer…"
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 Center Locater"
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 web site:
    1. Click on "Dealers/Distributors" for a map and list of dealers in the USA
Go to the Kawasaki web site:
    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 web site:
    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.

National / 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 contact include:

• Kiwanis
• 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 Women
• Soroptimist
• Altrusa
• 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 and foundations

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 of assistance.

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 hovercraft.

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 succeed.

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 for donations.

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