Understanding your Sponsors

Before setting your goals and starting to reach out to sponsors, it's extremely necessary to understand them and their perspective towards supporting hackathons.

Sponsorship is one of the most crucial parts of every hackathon. When you're reaching out to sponsors, it's extremely necessary to understand their perspective of supporting your hackathon and the outcome they're expecting out of it. You should consider this as a sales pitch for your hackathon To understand it further, let's first understand the different types of sponsor hackathons generally target to.

Hackathons target five categories of sponsors:

  • Financial/ Monetary Sponsors — Cash for services (most sponsors fall into this category)

  • Presenting Sponsors — Sponsors that co-host or co-brand your event (be careful not to give up too much control here)

  • In-kind Sponsors — Donor companies. They can provide hardware, t-shirts, platform credits etc. within the hackathon.

  • Strategic/ Media Partners — Sponsors that help with marketing and promotion; often publications.

  • Community Partners — Communities that can contribute to the culture of the hackathon providing you with mentors, judges, support staff etc. to make your hackathon run smoother.

Please note that these are all broad categories and there will be sponsors that can fit into multiple categories at once as well.

Further, we would recommend you to check this article about evaluating your in-kind sponsorship to know what might be the best suitable support you might need for your hackathon. This article specifically focuses on how much control you should be having while choosing different platform/ services people might be offering you as a part of their sponsorship package.

Now when we have enough information about what category a sponsor might lie in, we should try to understand what their goal or primary reason might be to support your hackathon.

Sponsors support hackathons for three primary reasons:

  • To get realtime feedback on their products, especially APIs and development tools.

  • To raise awareness (or change the perception) of their brand/ product or service.

  • To recruit interns and full-time employees, especially during the fall season.

Other than the three primary reasons, sponsors might have their region targeted goals as well which can be a driving factor for them to help your hackathon out. Working with them to send specific stats about your event to help their process can be a great way to improve your chances of sponsorship.

For partners generally, the reason for support can be related to alignment with community values, increasing engagement or general awareness as well.

Since you have understood the way to target your sponsors and their reasons to support your hackathon, you should now be aware of the different concerns they might have.

Sponsors’ top practical concerns:

  1. Attendee Value

    • Are your hackathon’s attendees a good fit for the company in terms of recruiting, marketing, etc.?

    • How hard is it for companies to reach this audience without your help?

  2. Who else is sponsoring?

    • Depending on the sponsor, your other backers will matter. Some companies prefer to sponsor events their competitors sponsor, whereas others want to ensure they’re the biggest name on your roster.

  3. Package Value

    • Are they getting their money’s worth?

  4. The Force (a.k.a. their gut feel)

    • How do the sponsors feel about your competency: is the event well-organized so far? Have you been professional in all communications?

While setting your goals, keep all of these points into consideration and make different categories of people you need to target. Creating specific Sponsorship Prospectus for different target companies can be a great way to help them understand the value of associating their brand with your hackathon.