Ordering Swags & Prizes

Adding a physical touch to your digital events!

When it comes to prizes and swag, you should do what your budget allows. Utilizing too much money into the shipping and fulfilment of swag and prizes in a digital event is not valuable as it might be for an in-person event. Judiciously using your resources is the major thing you should be looking at while making decisions about what to offer.


Prizes are a great way to reward hackers for their hard work. When selecting them, it’s important to consider why you are giving a prize, what sort of behaviors that prize rewards, and how you can go about motivating those behaviors. No one wants to be seen as stingy, but prizes say a lot about who you are as a community, why you are there in the first place, and they influence the vibe of your event — big time. Check out this article for a larger discussion on hackathon prizes.

While cash prizes are easy for digital events, we do not recommend them. The perceived value of a cash prize is much lower than traditional prizes.

Consider waiting until after your event to order prizes so that you can ship them directly to hackers.

Prize Ideas

Gear – Cool Items To Use With Future Hacks

  • Sphero

  • Unreleased hardware

  • Rechargeable battery packs

  • Laptop, tablet, etc.

  • Drones

  • Parts or Gift Cards for Inventables, Sparkfun, or Adafruit

Novelty – Things Hackers Love, But Might Not Buy For Themselves

  • Retro Video Games

  • Limited Edition Swag

  • Polaroid Camera

  • Audible Subscription


If you have a significant budget surplus, consider sending swag bags to everyone who submitted a project at your event, this can be as low cost as $5 per participant. It’s a great way to encourage them to demo and helps you make the event more memorable.

If you plan to do this, remember to collect t-shirt sizes and shipping addresses.

If you don’t have the budget to ship everyone something, you can send a package to each university club that participated and have them handle the distribution when it is once again safe to gather. That should keep shipping (and labor) low, while letting you allocate your budget toward something high-impact.

Keep in mind however you’re shipping, this doesn’t need to happen directly after your online event. We encourage you to take a few days off to rest and recover before you start the shipping process. Alternatively, you can send out swag to arrive before the event starts so hackers can post on social media and generate hype"

Contact your Hackathon Community Manager ([email protected]) for help on shipping, as we can ship for you. MLH has tons of experience with getting swag packed and sent.