Introduction to Fundraising

Getting in funds is the major starting point for any hackathon. This article focuses to give you an idea of how and what Sponsorship for a hackathon looks like.

Landing quality sponsorship is manageable if you break the process into small steps and give yourself plenty of lead time. The more practice you get approaching and negotiating with potential backers, the better you’ll become at the art of fundraising.

One thing to keep in mind as you work your way through this process: sponsors are like investors — they want to see you’re serious before they give you capital. In the same way, you wouldn’t approach for venture capital without a product prototype, don’t reach out to sponsors until you’ve got evidence that your hackathon is well on its way to happening: a confirmed date and time, pre-registrations from students, etc.

With the right communication and target, you can expect a lot of positive response from the sponsors' side. However, be diligent to communicate with your sponsors at every step of the process. Explain to them the reasons for hosting your event, outline how you will support them throughout the event, and let them know about the success of other hackathons.

  • Prize categories and Workshops are both major perks sponsors like to get involved in the hackathons they are supporting.

    • Example challenges/workshops can help them pick a topic that will have a greater impact on hackers. While they can offer a different one, a list of examples can help them if they do not know where to start.

    • Challenge Examples:

      • Best Use of X

        • X being their general API. Try not to have it be too specific as this will decrease the creativity of hackers.

      • Best Sustainability/Social Good/Educational/etc Hack

        • This can allow for a general topic the company wants to encourage hackers to incorporate into their hack.

    • Workshop Examples:

      • Resume Building/Cracking the Technical Interview

      • Day in the life of a software dev

      • Intro to Python/GitHub/C#/AI/ML/Insert tech topic

      • Intro to *their API*

  • You can also give sponsors their own channel on the chat platform (Slack/Discord) to talk to hackers, and have them introduce themselves so everyone knows who they are how they can be a resource for them throughout the event. They can get great interactions with hackers across the venue, answer questions specific to their challenge, apis, or workshop content, and share information specific to their role at the event.

When you’re finished reading this section of the guide, we strongly recommend watching our fundraising webinar: Raising Sponsorship - A Workshop by MLH and Creating Compelling Sponsorships.

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