You can offer a ton of different things to your sponsors while organising a hackathon. Hackathons always find unique and fascinating ways of involving sponsors at every single aspect of the hackathon increasing the worth for all of the people involved.
Running a Sponsored Prize
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 have a specific person who knows about the challenge at their table during the event so hackers can ask questions, get feedback, and chat with them about the track. This can be done in addition to asking your sponsors to randomly interact with the participants at their seats, and you should also encourage them to monitor a chat channel for their company in your Slack/Discord where they can respond at all times.
This is a great way of keeping your hackers engaged and increasing the presence of your sponsors as well. Keep in mind to host workshops in such a way that you get maximum participation and it is not hindering the hackers' timings as well. You will have a hard time getting anyone to attend a Sunday workshop(with Pitching Your Project as the only exception). Hackers are tired and ready to demo and go to bed, and it is too late for them to use what they would learn at the workshop in their project. Try to have all workshops on Friday/Saturday. The Introduction to Fundraising page has some examples of workshops they can host.
Fun and Games
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. Some sponsors don't think they are allowed to participate in the fun mini-events, so encourage one of your organizers(potentially your sponsorship lead) to go around before a mini-event to get the sponsors to come take a break and hang with hackers! You can check out some mini-event ideas under our Host Exciting Mini-Events section.
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/Sponsorship Fair – Have a dedicated space where hackers can go and have some chats with sponsors/ recruiters regarding anything from their resume to job expectations to company culture etc.
Interviews – If you’re providing resumes in advance, your recruiters may be interested in interviewing your hackers during the event. We generally recommend having a dedicated office-type space for respecting the privacy of the interview process.