Sponsorship

Hackathons can't run without sponsors, and getting sponsorship is one of the hardest challenges you will face, but below you will find a few helpful comments on how to get started.

Prospectus

You need to write a sponsorship prospectus. You can find tons of examples in the MLHs repository.

The DurHack19 Sponsorship Deck can be found here.

Finding Sponsors

Unfortunately the best way to get sponsorship is to 'cold email' as many companies as possible. Remember to try and tailor the initial email to the company and to think about what that company will want to get out of the hackathon, a local startup will want something very different to Microsoft.

A few could starting places when looking for sponsors:

  • Your university/department, most hackathons manage to get their Computer Science department (or equivalent) to put in some money, especially to help with a new hackathon.
  • Local county/city council. (Check for a culture fund!)
  • Large companies Student developer programs. Microsoft offers a good one!
  • Spinoff companies from your university/department.
  • Your department's advisory board, this is normally full of companies who want to help students!

A good tool to keep track of all the potential sponsors is a CRM, e.g. hubspot, you can add contacts to it as well as set up a sponsorship pipeline.

Contracts

An example contract with terms removed can be seen here.

Many Student Unions have a legal department dedicated to writing, amending, approving and enforcing contracts. It's always nice to have the SU have your back in the unlikely case of a rougue sponsor.

The Manchester Computer Science society has a public script for doing contract generation based on templates, which might be helpful if you are doing a lot.

Sponsorship Tiers

This is a core element of the hackathon budget, as well as how the hackathon runs overall. Having different tiers can provide a plethera of addons with the capabilites with what a sponsor can do within the hackathon.

Most hackathons have at least 3 different tiers which is a common trend between different hackathons. Some sponsors may find it easier for them to provide in kind sponsorship, this might be in the form of prizes, a venue or energy drinks. In kind sponsorship is very useful still, as it will help cut your costs but remember that you do also need enough sponsors who can provide cash.

Note: This is a sample tier system with addons.

Top Tier Mid Tier Low Tier
Tier Description This is the best tier which will provide the most amount of abilities in the hackathon. This is the most common tier which will provide the stable amount of abilities within the hackathon. This is the beginning tier which will provide the stable amount of abilities within the hackathon.
Addons / Perks
  • Abilitiy to come to the hackathon
  • 2+ Workshops
  • Social Media Presence
  • Judging Panel
  • Abilitiy to come to the hackathon
  • 1-2 Workshop
  • Social Media Presence
  • Judging Panel
  • Social Media Presence
  • No Workshop
  • Swag Pack
Tier Price Guidance Around 30-40% of the hackathon budget Around 15-25% of the hackathon budget Around 10% of the hackathon budget
First-time hackathons projections Best to have up to 2 if possible. Best to have up to 1 if possible. Best to have more than 2 if possible. You can also have no low tier sponsors but it's advised to have a couple.

Example

AstonHack has done 3 tiers within different tier prices:

Gold Tier Silver Tier Bronze Tier
Prices £1500 £1000 £500
Perks Avaliable
  • Workshops
  • Extended Opening Ceremony Presentations
  • Top level advertising on website and social media
  • Set a sponsor challenge
  • Run a workshop/game/event
  • Part of Judging Panel
  • Sponsor table at the event
  • Opening Ceremony Presentations
  • Advertising on website and social media
  • Set a sponsor challenge
  • Part of Judging Panel
  • Sponsor table at the event
No On-site presence
  • Advertising on website and social media
  • Can send merch to be handed out at the event