Maximising Sponsorship Opportunities for Your Hackathon

by Tejaswini , 19 April 2023
by Tejaswini ,  19 April 2023
Maximising Sponsorship Opportunities for Your Hackathon

Hackathon events are becoming increasingly popular among businesses and organisations as a way to spur innovation, foster collaboration, and build community.

One crucial aspect of hackathon event planning is securing sponsorships that can provide the necessary funding and resources to ensure a successful event.

In this article, we will explore how to maximise sponsorship opportunities for hackathon events, including strategies for developing compelling sponsorship proposals, building relationships with potential sponsors, and measuring sponsorship ROI.

By leveraging these strategies, organisers of hackathon events can secure the resources they need to create a successful event and build long-lasting partnerships with sponsors.

What Does a Hackathon Cost and Where Does the Money Go?

The cost of running a hackathon can vary widely depending on factors such as the size of the event, location, duration, number of participants, and the level of production value. Some of the main costs involved in organising a hackathon include venue rental, food and beverages, marketing and advertising, equipment rentals, prizes, and staff and volunteer expenses.

Hackathons generate an estimated $300 billion in economic value globally. (Source: Hackernoon)According to some estimates, the cost of running a hackathon can range from a few thousand dollars for a small, local event to over $1 million for a large, multi-day hackathon with thousands of participants. However, The average cost of hosting a hackathon is around $15,000 to $25,000. (Source: EventMB).

It's important to note that hackathon organisers can also generate revenue from sponsorships, ticket sales, and partnerships, which can help offset some of the costs of running the event. By carefully managing expenses and seeking out funding opportunities, it's possible to organise a successful hackathon on a budget.

B. Here is a possible budget breakdown for a hackathon event:

  • Venue Rental: The cost of renting a venue can vary depending on the location, size, and duration of the event. Creative and productive events start with unique and inspiring venues. Check out these amazing hackathon venues in London to get some inspiration.
Ultimate Iconic Theatre Backdrop for any Event via Eventflare.webp
Ultimate Iconic Theatre Backdrop for any Event via Eventflare
  • Food and Beverage: Providing food and beverages for attendees is important and can include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the event. The cost can vary depending on the number of attendees and the type of food served.
  • Technology and Equipment: This includes the cost of renting or purchasing computers, monitors, projectors, and other technology required for the event.
  • Marketing and Promotion: Marketing and promotion expenses can include social media advertising, print materials, and other promotional items such as T-shirts or banners.
  • Staff and Volunteers: The cost of hiring staff and volunteers to manage the event and provide technical support can be a significant expense. The cost of hiring staff, and volunteers, and implementing communication solution like continental message solution to manage the event and provide technical support can be a significant expense.
  • Prizes and Swag: Providing prizes and swag for winners and attendees is a great way to incentivize participation and engagement. The cost can vary depending on the number and type of prizes and swag items provided.
  • Miscellaneous Expenses: This expense category can include expenses such as insurance, permits, travel costs, and any other miscellaneous expenses related to the event.

It's important to keep in mind that the actual costs can vary greatly depending on the size and scope of the hackathon event, as well as the location and available resources.

1. Identifying Hackathon Sponsors

In a survey of hackathon organisers, 87% reported that they have difficulty securing sponsorship. (Source: Forbes). So, to that end, here are some practical strategies and tips to consider when identifying potential sponsors.

N.B. check out these 4 tips for growing your event sponsorship revenue!

A. Strategies for Identifying Potential Sponsors

  • Research Industry-Specific Companies: Look for companies that share your values and have a history of supporting similar events.

For example, if you're organising a hackathon event focused on healthcare technology, you may want to research companies in the healthcare industry that have an interest in technology and innovation.

  • Reach Out to Previous Sponsors: Previous sponsors already have a relationship with your organisation and may be more likely to support your event again. You can also ask them for referrals to other potential sponsors in their network.
  • Utilise Networking:Attend industry events, join professional associations, and leverage your personal and professional networks to connect with potential sponsors. You can also use social media platforms like LinkedIn to identify and connect with relevant contacts in potential sponsor companies.

B. Tips for Creating a List of Potential Sponsors

  • Determine Sponsorship Levels: Determine the different levels of sponsorship available for your hackathon events, such as platinum, gold, and silver. You can also create customised sponsorship packages that offer different benefits and opportunities at each sponsorship level.
  • Prioritise Potential Sponsors:Create a list of potential sponsors and prioritise them based on their fit with the event. Consider factors such as company values, previous sponsorship history, industry relevance, and the level of exposure and engagement they can offer.

For example, a sponsor that can provide a keynote speaker or a workshop session may be more valuable than one that can only offer financial support.

  • Conduct a SWOT Analysis: Asses each potential sponsor's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will help you identify potential issues or concerns that may affect your sponsorship partnership and help you address them proactively.

2. Approaching Potential Event Sponsors

Hackathon Sponsorship via Hackernoon.jpeg
Hackathon Sponsorship via Hackernoon

Once you have identified potential sponsors, it's time to start crafting a compelling sponsorship proposal and building a relationship with them. Here are some tips and strategies to help you approach sponsors effectively:

A. Craft a Compelling Sponsorship Proposal:

  • Clearly communicate the benefits for sponsors: It's essential to highlight the benefits that sponsors can expect to receive in return for their investment newsletters. Consider creating different sponsorship packages that offer a variety of benefits at different price points, and explain how each package can help sponsors achieve their specific goals.
  • Personalise your approach: To increase your chances of success, take the time to research potential sponsors and tailor your proposal to their interests and needs. Address sponsors by name, demonstrate that you have done your homework on their business, and explain why you believe they would be an excellent fit for your event.

Research the sponsorship guidelines of potential sponsors to ensure your event aligns with their brand values and sponsorship objectives. Use the information you gather to tailor your proposal and highlight how sponsoring your event can help them achieve their marketing and branding goals.

  • Be creative: To make your proposal stand out, consider including unique sponsorship opportunities that will capture sponsors' attention. Provide specific examples of successful sponsorship packages from other events and explain why they were effective. Consider offering a memorable experience for sponsors, such as hosting a VIP reception or providing branded swag bags.

N.B. To learn more about how to write an event sponsorship proposal, read our ultimate guide write here.

B. Build a Relationship with Potential Sponsors:

  • Attend industry events and conferences: Industry events and conferences such as content marketing conferences are a great opportunity to network with potential sponsors and showcase your event. Research attendees beforehand, prepare talking points, and be ready to explain why your event is a great fit for their brand. After the event, follow up with an email or LinkedIn connection request.
  • Engage on social media: Social media is a powerful tool for building relationships with potential sponsors. Follow their social media accounts, share their content, and comment on their posts. Use social media to showcase your event and attract sponsors, such as creating a hashtag and sharing behind-the-scenes content.
  • Follow-up: Consider sending a personalised email or scheduling a follow-up call. Keep potential sponsors engaged and interested in your event by sharing updates and offering early access to event information.

3. Sponsorship Benefits and How to Present Them

A. The Benefits of Being a Hackathon Sponsor

Brand exposure: Hackathons attract a diverse group of participants, including developers, designers, and entrepreneurs. By sponsoring a hackathon, companies can get their brand in front of this audience and gain exposure to potential customers, partners, and employees.

Innovation: Hackathons are often focused on solving real-world problems or creating new technologies. By sponsoring a hackathon, companies can tap into the creativity and problem-solving skills of participants and potentially gain new ideas or solutions for their own products or services.

Recruitment: Hackathons are a great way to connect with talented individuals in the tech industry. By sponsoring a hackathon, companies can identify potential hires and build relationships with top talent.

Networking: Hackathons provide opportunities for companies to connect with other sponsors, mentors, and industry experts. By sponsoring a hackathon, companies can expand their network and build relationships with other organisations in their industry.

Social responsibility: Sponsoring a hackathon can be seen as a way for companies to support innovation and the development of new technologies. By sponsoring a hackathon, companies can demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and community involvement.

When it comes to securing sponsors for your hackathon, it's crucial to understand what benefits you can offer them in exchange for their investment. Here are some more actionable tips to help you create a compelling sponsorship package:

B. Specific Benefits to Offer Sponsors:

  • Logo placement: Prominently featuring sponsors' logos on event marketing materials, such as the event website, social media channels, or promotional flyers, is a highly valuable benefit. You can offer varying levels of logo placement, such as a larger logo on the website or social media cover photo, depending on the sponsor's investment level.
  • Speaking opportunities: Provide sponsors with opportunities to showcase their expertise by conducting automated product demonstrations, participating in keynote speeches, or joining panel discussions. Make sure to offer speaking opportunities that align with the sponsor's area of expertise.
  • Branded giveaways: Distributing branded giveaways such as T-shirts, water bottles, or other items with the sponsor's logo can increase brand awareness among attendees. Be sure to offer high-quality items that attendees will actually use, and consider allowing sponsors to offer custom designs or products that are unique to their brand.

For example, check out these 32 unique ideas for branded event merchandise!

  • Exclusive access: Offering sponsors exclusive access to event attendees can be a significant incentive. Consider offering sponsors a VIP reception, where they can network with other sponsors and key event attendees, or a meet and greet with keynote speakers.

C. Tips for Tailoring Benefits to Fit the Specific Needs and Interests of Each Sponsor:

  • Understand their goals: Take the time to understand each sponsor's goals for sponsoring the event. What are they looking to achieve? What audience are they targeting? This information can help you create a custom benefits package that aligns with their objectives.
  • Offer customisation: Consider offering customised sponsorship packages that offer a mix of benefits tailored to each sponsor's needs. Allow them to select the benefits that are most important to them, or offer a la carte options that can be added to a standard package. This flexibility can help you secure sponsors who may have otherwise been out of reach.
  • Highlight their uniqueness: Showcase the unique features of each sponsor and explain how their brand can benefit from sponsoring the event. Highlight their unique value proposition, and explain how it aligns with the event's audience and goals. Be sure to provide examples of how their brand can benefit from each benefit you offer.

4. Measuring the Success of Sponsorship Benefits:

Measuring sponsorship ROI (Return on Investment) is important to determine whether the sponsorship was successful and to inform future sponsorship decisions. Here are some common ways to measure sponsorship ROI:

  • Track website traffic and social media engagement during the event to measure the impact of logo placement.
  • Monitor attendance or conduct post-event surveys to gauge the success of speaking opportunities.
  • Gather feedback from sponsors to understand which benefits were most valuable to them and how you can improve your sponsorship package in the future.
  • Media Exposure: Calculate the total media exposure generated through the event and the sponsor's involvement. This can include media mentions, social media posts, and press releases. You can also use tools like Google Analytics KPIs to track website traffic and social media engagement.
  • Brand Awareness: Survey attendees before and after the event to determine the sponsor's impact on brand awareness. Ask questions about brand recall, brand perception, and likelihood to purchase.
  • Lead Generation: Track leads generated as a result of the sponsorship, such as email sign-ups, demo requests, or sales inquiries.
  • Sales: Measure the number of sales generated as a result of the sponsorship. This can include tracking coupon codes or tracking website traffic to determine the impact on sales.
  • Cost Analysis: Calculate the cost of the sponsorship and compare it to the value generated through media exposure, brand awareness, lead generation, and sales. This can help determine the ROI of the sponsorship.
  • Successful Outcomes: Can you show that your previous hackathons have led to successful ventures, say, a startup? That could be just what a potential hackathon sponsor needs to hear.

To learn more about how this is done, read our article, What Happens After the Hackathon? Turning Winning Ideas into Successful Startups

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5. Fostering Long-Term Corporate Sponsorship Relations

Hackathons Sponsors via MadebyWiFi.jpg
Hackathons Sponsors viaMadebyWiFi

Building long-term relationships with sponsors is essential for the success of your event, as it can lead to continued support and a positive reputation. Here are some benefits of building long-term relationships with sponsors and strategies for maintaining those relationships:

A. Benefits of Building Long-Term Relationships with Sponsors:

  • Continued Support: Sponsors that have had a positive experience with your event are more likely to sponsor future events, providing you with a reliable source of funding. To ensure continued support, it is crucial to maintain regular contact with your sponsors and keep them informed of your event's progress.
  • Positive Reputation:Sponsors that have had a positive experience with your event are likely to share that experience with others, giving your event a positive reputation. A positive reputation can attract new sponsors and attendees, helping your event grow and succeed. Encourage your sponsors to share their positive experiences on their social media channels and other platforms to promote your event and help it reach a broader audience.

B. Strategies for Maintaining Relationships with Sponsors:

  • Regular Communication: Regular communication can include updates on event planning, reports on the impact of their sponsorship, or invitations to participate in event-related activities. You can also send newsletters or other communications throughout the year to keep sponsors informed and engaged.
  • Exclusive Benefits:Exclusive benefits can include VIP access, personalised branding opportunities, or opportunities to participate in event planning. Consider offering different levels of sponsorship packages that provide increasingly exclusive benefits to sponsors who continue to support your event over time.
  • Involvement in Event Planning: Inviting long-term sponsors to participate in event planning can help them feel valued and invested in your event. This involvement can include providing input on event programming, serving on a planning committee, or participating in focus groups. By involving sponsors in the planning process, you can gain valuable feedback and insights while strengthening your relationship with them.
  • Evaluation and Feedback: Use this feedback to improve your event planning and make changes that will benefit your sponsors in the future. By demonstrating that you value their input, you can strengthen your relationship with sponsors and encourage continued support.

6. Unique Hackathon Sponsorship Ideas

  • Mentorship opportunities: Invite experts in the field to serve as mentors for participants during the hackathon. Sponsors can provide their own experts or help connect you with relevant professionals.
  • Swag bags: Sponsors can provide swag bags filled with branded merchandise, such as T-shirts, stickers, water bottles, and more. Participants will appreciate the freebies and sponsors will get some extra exposure.

For example, check out our guide to assembling the perfect event goodie bag!

  • Food and drinks: Providing free food and drinks for participants is always appreciated. Sponsors can offer to cater meals or provide snacks and beverages throughout the event.
  • Challenge prizes: Sponsors can offer challenge prizes to participants who create the best solutions related to their specific industry or technology. This can incentivise participants to work on projects that align with the sponsor's interests.
  • Branding opportunities: Sponsors can receive branding opportunities throughout the event, such as having their logo displayed on event materials, sponsoring specific parts of the event (e.g. the opening ceremony), or having their branding prominently displayed in the event space.
  • Speaker opportunities: Sponsors can provide keynote speakers or panellists for the event, which can attract participants and provide valuable insights.
  • Networking opportunities: Sponsors can host networking events or sessions for participants to meet with industry professionals or company representatives. This can be a great opportunity for participants to learn about potential job or internship opportunities.

These are just a few ideas, but there are countless ways to get creative with hackathon sponsorships. Remember to tailor your offerings to the interests and goals of your potential sponsors, and highlight how their involvement can benefit both them and the event.


  • Google: Google has sponsored many hackathons in the past and has offered various resources and support for participants, such as cloud computing credits, mentorship, and access to their APIs and technologies.
  • Microsoft: Microsoft has sponsored hackathons by offering participants access to their Azure cloud platform, free software licenses, and even providing prizes for winners of certain categories.
  • IBM: IBM has sponsored hackathons by offering access to their Watson artificial intelligence platform, mentorship, and even sponsoring specific challenges or prizes for participants who utilise their technology in innovative ways.
  • GitHub: GitHub has sponsored hackathons by offering free access to their code hosting and collaboration platform, as well as providing mentorship and prizes for participants who use their platform in unique and impactful ways.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS): AWS has sponsored hackathons by offering free cloud computing credits, mentorship, and access to their APIs and technologies. They have also sponsored specific challenges or prizes for participants who utilise their technology in creative ways.

7. Common Problems in Securing Hackathon Sponsorship

There are several common problems people may face when securing hackathon sponsorship, including:

Lack of Clarity: Many organisers fail to clearly communicate their event's value proposition, goals, and target audience. This can make it difficult for potential sponsors to understand why they should invest in your event.

  • Limited Reach: If your event has a limited reach or low attendance, potential sponsors may be hesitant to invest in it. It's essential to demonstrate that your event will attract a significant number of attendees, particularly those in your target audience.
  • Inadequate Planning: Sponsors want to see that you have a solid plan in place for your event. If you don't have a detailed budget, timeline, or marketing plan, it can be challenging to convince sponsors that you're organised and capable of running a successful event.
  • Poor Proposal: Your proposal is a critical document that can make or break your sponsorship efforts. If your proposal is poorly written, lacks detail, or fails to showcase your event's value proposition, it's unlikely that you'll secure significant sponsorship.
  • Lack of Follow-up: After sending your sponsorship proposal, it's essential to follow up with potential sponsors. Many organisers fail to follow up, which can be perceived as a lack of interest or disorganisation.
  • Failure to Deliver: Finally, if you fail to deliver on your promises to sponsors, they may be hesitant to sponsor your event in the future. It's essential to provide sponsors with detailed reports on the impact of their sponsorship, fulfil any promised benefits, and maintain open lines of communication.

8. Further Funding Options Beyond Sponsorship

Apart from sponsorship, there are several other ways to fund a hackathon:

Ticket Sales: You can charge attendees for tickets to attend the hackathon. This can be a great source of revenue, especially if you have many attendees.

Grants: You can apply for grants from government organisations, non-profits, or other funding bodies that support events like hackathons. Some grants may be specifically designed for hackathons or events in the tech industry.

Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo can be a good way to raise funds for a hackathon. You can offer rewards to those who contribute, such as early access to the hackathon or exclusive merchandise.

Corporate Donations: Some corporations have budgets for charitable giving or community events. You can reach out to companies that have a presence in the tech industry and see if they would be willing to donate to your hackathon.

Partnerships: You can form partnerships with other organisations or businesses interested in the tech industry. For example, a local tech company may be willing to provide funding or resources for your hackathon in exchange for publicity or exposure to potential customers.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, securing sponsors for your event is an important step in ensuring its success. To build a compelling sponsorship proposal, tailoring benefits to each sponsor's specific needs, and Building long-term relationships with sponsors.

Just don’t forget to book your entire event in one place - Eventflare - to achieve high-impacting hackathons that lead to bigger and better things!

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