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Ordering Swags & Prizes

Adding a physical touch to your events!
When it comes to prizes and swag, you should do what your budget allows. While swag is great for marketing/branding, you do not want to sacrifice quality of the other aspects of your event.
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. Use your best judgement when it comes to how much to spend on swag for a digital event

Prizes

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 events, we do not recommend them. The perceived value of a cash prize is much lower than traditional prizes.
Save the receipts for any prizes. If a winning team has 3 members instead of 4 you can return the prize to add to the next year's budget. You could also raffle the extra prizes or do social media challenges.
Many cool items will be backordered. Order prizes early to have them in time for In-Person events.
For digital events 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
  • Personalized action figures
  • Polaroid Camera
  • Audible Subscription
  • Geeky posters
  • Office Warfare gear (ping pong ball launcher, nerf guns, etc.)

Experiences – A Memorable, One-time Adventure With Friends

  • Movie Tickets
  • Trip to Medieval Times or an amusement park
  • A trip somewhere (may cost $1000/person, but still less overall than many cash prizes)
  • Lunch with your hero
  • Laser tag tournament
  • Conference tickets
  • Company trip – visit and hang out with your favorite companies for a day

Swag

If you have a significant budget surplus, consider making swag bags for everyone, this can be as low cost as $5 per participant.
If you have multiple types of swag, consider distributing the swag throughout the event at different workshops/mini-events to keep hackers engaged.
If you plan to do this, remember to collect t-shirt sizes and, if digital, shipping addresses.
If you don’t have the budget to ship everyone something for a digital event, you can send a package to each university club that participated and have them handle the distribution. 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
For Digital Events 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.