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.

Digital Sponsorship

Getting sponsorships for Digital Hackathons is much different from an In Person one. This is because sponsors have different goals from different kind of events. Also, a digital hackathon can be organized for a fraction of the cost of an In Person hackathon.
With the right communication and target, you can expect a lot of positive response from the sponsors' side even for a digital hackathon. However, be diligent to communicate with your sponsors at every step of the process. Explain to them the reasons for making your event digital, outline how you will support them throughout the event, and let them know about the success at other digital events.
  • As we have noticed with time, sponsors can get much of the same value from a Digital Event as they can an In Person one.
  • Prize categories and Workshops can both be run much the same, though sponsors should practice running their workshop through streaming or pre-recorded video.
  • 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. As long as they’re online answering questions from hackers about their company/prize category/workshop/anything else they’re doing that weekend, they’ll have a lot of great interactions with hackers.
  • We also strongly recommend doing Office Hours with sponsors.

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.