You can offer a ton of different things to your sponsors while organising a digital hackathon. The goal is to offer something that might help the sponsors find the same value they have while sponsoring in-person hackathon. If executed right, sponsors might be able to find much more value in a digital hackathon for fraction of their cost making it an awesome experience for everyone involved!
A sponsored prize track or category can significantly boost your hackathon value for the sponsors as well as for the participants. For the sponsors, this might result in new people contributing in unique ways towards their product and for hackers, this might be an additional prize for them to grab upon during the hackathon!
The only thing to keep in mind here will be to ask your sponsors to match the value of other prizes you have for the hackathon so that the other prizes do not get undermined due to the extra offerings in one specific category.
If your sponsors are running a prize track, ask them to host office hours where hackers can ask questions, get feedback, and chat with them about the track. This can be done in addition to adding your sponsors in the chat channel where they can respond at all times. Having specific hours dedicated to 1:1 conversations can be a great way to generate value.
Hosting workshops in a digital hackathon has a much more value attached to it than in a physical hackathon. This is a great way of keeping your hackers engaged and increasing the presence of your sponsors as well. See our MLH Localhost recommendations for help on hosting remote workshops.
As you’re hosting games and competitions throughout the event, consider mixing it up with sponsor vs hacker vs organizers challenges! If your sponsor isn’t as interested in technical workshops, see if they’re interested in hosting a mini-event or game.
If a sponsor is primarily interested in recruiting, there are several ways to engage them. Some ideas include:
Resume critiques – Office hours where recruiters help hackers edit and perfect their resumes.
1:1 Recruiter/Sponsor Chats – Set up Google Hangouts or Zoom breakout rooms for your hackers to meet companies one on one, similarly to how they would at a sponsor fair.
Interviews – If you’re providing resumes in advance, your recruiters may be interested in interviewing your hackers during the event, similarly to how they would at an in-person event. Assist them with setting up technology to facilitate these interviews.