Contribution and Cultivation FAQ’s
What types of contributions does ORTOP accept? ORTOP accepts donations, sponsorships, gifts, and in-kind products and services. Donations are defined as 100% philanthropic transactions, receiving no goods or services in exchange for the single transaction, and provide the donor with a 100% tax deductible receipt for the contribution. Sponsorships often gain a title or promotional opportunity in exchange for access or exposure, and a % of the tax-deductible amount is reduced in exchange for agreed goods or services received. Gifts are defined as contributions in appreciation, usually given to staff, board or volunteers for special efforts. In-kind gifts are products or services that a professional entity in the business of offering the product or service offers for free to ORTOP. Each gift has a required record keeping and reporting routine to insure our stakeholders know we are properly managing and distributing funds.
How do you know how many contributions ORTOP needs? Each year the ORTOP Board approves the strategic plan priorities (which always focus on advancing the ORTOP nonprofit mission) and the staff builds work plans that express what amount are needed to reach targets to support teams & community partners, cover program expenses, and support events and staffing. The Development & Communications department builds annual programs and campaigns that intersect with the current annual workplan needs as well as raise a portion to support the Board’s long-range goals that will build capacity to reach more teams and communities.
Can I get a contribution from ORTOP? Maybe! ORTOP distributes all but a small portion of the funds it raises back to directly support teams, schools, and partners. This is a competitive process. Work with your Program officer to determine what may be available. Apply by the May grant deadline.
How are contributions directed for use? All contributions under $5,000 are directed to the general fund. This is ORTOP’s operating fund and insures the most flexibility to apply contribution support to any program. How this money is spent and the number of teams that are funded are reported each year by December and shared for free with the public on our website.
What is the minimum contribution amount so I can designate a contribution to a specific team? None, Nadda, $0. ORTOP can not give money directly from a contributor to one team. This is not a fair and equitable distribution of funds as it gives a preference to one specific team which is against IRS regulations. Instead, ORTOP puts contributions under $5,000 into their general fund so that all teams can be funded. For gifts over $5,000 we allow the contributor to designate a county or a specific FIRST program (FLL, FLL Jr. FTC, or FRC) to focus the funds.
Can contributors, or donors ever restrict their contributions to something they want to focus on? Yes, contributions that are $20,000 or more or $10,000 for a two year commitment or more may be restricted to a specific agreed purpose such as all gender, or ethnic focused team building in underrepresented areas. These amounts are necessary as extra staffing or expertise, outside the capacity of the current work plans may be needed to insure the restricted work can be completed on time and in budget without reducing the impact of other work that is in action year to year.
Does ORTOP manage any statewide fundraising efforts that FIRST teams can participate in? Not Yet! But they are coming! We’ve made some really important and recent updates in preparation for this. We consolidated our Annual Recognition and Supporter Program as most supporters were recognized at the one specific program or event they supported. Now, more donors, sponsors, and in-kind contributors are giving to insure all four programs are supported. This increases recognition and awareness of what supporters are will get recognition and benefits at all four state championship events among other annual recognition platforms.
Why is it so important to support all four programs? After nearly 20 years of operating, we have learned that a K-12th grade continuum across all four programs yields substantial benefits. ORTOP’s responsibility has evolved from offering training and tournaments to assisting communities to pre-define needs and target resources across a pipeline of students and volunteers to keep the community operational. For example, if a small community has FLL teams, but no FTC teams, one day it is likely they will need a coach, volunteer, or tournament travel resources for FTC or FRC participation. If kids join earlier in FLL Jr., then move to FLL, and into FTC or FRC program, the skill building and learning shows substantial readiness for work force placement, scholarships, or post secondary education. It makes sense for ORTOP to find and engage contributors and supporters around this shared vision of building strong community-by-community readiness pipelines to advance students across grade levels to get the full impact of learning, and respond with innovative solutions to keep students and volunteers engaged and valued in a 4 programs instead just a one program year-by-year approach.