I contacted DJ Sures about this subject and he suggested that I post a thread here.
My name is Jamie Young and with the help of EZ-Robot and some pointers from helpful members here I was able to build a Baby Dragon a few years ago. This has been my first venture in to animatronics as I normally just build static props.
I have been invited to a sci-fi convention later this year in WInnipeg Manitoba, they love my life size props and really love the baby dragon. The convention is a 7 hour drive both ways and I would have to rent a u-haul van. The organizers really want me to attend so they have offered me $200 to help with gas.
Last year I was invited to a more locally run convention (only 2 hours away) I took the dragon there but was unable to show it working because of laptop issues. I have recently exchanged my old EZ-board for the newer bluetooth version so that I can control it through my tablet (which works great).
I have taken the dragon along with several props to local schools over the past 3 years to help teach animatronics and building skills, I am regularly asked back (the teachers have just as much fun as the kids do). I have left the dragon un-skinned as I like people to see the workings and show how simple and easy it can be to make great looking things.
I am doing everything I can to raise money to be able to travel to the convention to display my builds. I have contacted all the companies from whom I get my supplies in the hopes of getting some form of sponsorships worked out and like I mentioned I have even contacted Mr Sures about this as well, as I would obviously be telling anyone interested in how the dragon was built all about EZ-Robot, and would be willing to hand out pamphlets or business cards and he is looking in to some things for me. He also mentioned that I should post here because some of the members may be able to give me some advice or help out in some way.
Thank you all for your time.
How about starting a https://www.indiegogo.com/ site for donation. Take a look at some of the campaigns there and you'll see they are really varied, but they all offer the donators a little something. Just off the top of my head a couple of suggestions for you might be:
$1 - get listed on a thank you page
$2 - a emailed thank you with a picture of you from the convention
$5 - all the above + a link to a video showing neat things you saw the convention (I'm sure you'll be walking around visiting booths too)
$10 - a .pdf of parts diagrams to build a baby dragon like yours
$15 - the .pdf and .ezb files
$20 - all of the above
$50 - your name or company name on a sponsorship display at the convention (something small)
$100 - some bigger company or name recognition at the convention
$250 - even bigger recognition
$500 - all the above + your company or name on a printed banner hanging over the booth with material flyers if they company wants to provide you with some (you'd have your company or name on the banner and then Sponsored By: xyz, abc, etc)
$1000 - all the above + you demo their products at the event as well
$1500 - all the above + you demo their products at the event and have someone make a video of the conventioneers interactions with their product and provide it back to the supporter
$2000 - all the above + you'll wear the vender's hat (only 1 of those could be available and they have to send you the hat)
$3000 - all the above (- the $2000 contribution slot) + you'll wear the venders shirt (only 1 of those available as well - they send you the shirt)
If you go that route make sure you are fully transparent with how you'll use the money and why you need it. For instance I don't know why you would need a uHaul for the babydragon? I'm sure you know why, but I've seen robotics enthusiasts in the past try to raise money for something and fail because they were totally too vague about what they needed the money for and offered supporters virtually nothing in return.
Don't do something like, "Send me $5 and I'll smile thinking about you while I'm at the convention." "Send me $200 and you'll have my heartfelt thanks." Those sort of things don't generate buy in from anyone.
DJ or someone from EZ-Robot might be able to offer better ideas on prices for the higher value vender items if you go that route. I have no idea how much marketing costs or how much events like that cost a vender. So it would need to be a price point where a vender would gain something (exposer) and save some money by not having to go.
Thank you for the input, I really appreciate it. I am looking in your idea now. Oh and the reason I need the u-haul is because the convention organizers have asked me to bring several other larger items, including but not limited to the life size R2-D2 and wall-e that I made for under $200 each out of foam, and also the 4ft AT-AT I am working on.
Wow, that is super crafty! I guess a big van won't quite hold it all.