How do I?
Plan a Code for Philly signature hackathon:
You'll need the following
- Community partner(s)
- Panel of experts from the community
- Hackathon event shirts with sponsor logos
- Brainstorming/collaboration materials
- Catering/food/coffee donations
- Happy hour event space
- Weekend hacking space
Create a master spreadsheet to keep track of details that are in progress and confirmed. You can sample text from pre-written boiler plates as you start the outreach process.
- Community Partners
- We have a large list of past sponsors, but hackathons are a great opportunity to make new connections with funders. You can use sample language and the Code for Philly sponsor kit as start making contact. Be sure to give sponsors plenty of notice, so that they can pull funds together.
- Once the sponsorship level is confirmed, an invoice for the amount can be sent with payment made to the fiscal agent. Be sure to attach the IRS determination letter, so that companies can write off the donation.
- There are thousands of existing datasets on the community operated data portal, Open Data Philly. New datasets generally come from the City of Philadelphia, Office of Innovation and Technology (check contacts for most up-to-date contact).
- New datasets can also come from nonprofits and NGOs, so partners/collaborators may also be a source of new data
Panel of Experts
- Expert panelists play a key role in reviewing projects at the end of the hackathon and provide feedback so that teams may continue their projects at the weekly hack night.
- At least one panelist should be a technologist and one should a subject-matter expert. A range between 3-5 panelists has had the best success.
Hackathon event shirts with sponsor logos
- Bigger supporters are featured on the event shirts for the hackathon, so ask for a logo as you confirm sponsorship details.
- Shirts should be ordered 2 weeks in advance to avoid rush fees. Vendors we've used before are CustomInk and Awesome Dude's printing.
- You'll need to either recruit or fundraise for a graphic designer to help with the creative assets and t-shirt design. CustomInk is very user-friendly in putting a design together.
- Part of the Friday-night happy hour includes bringing a diverse set of professionals together to brainstorm together. We use post-it stand up pads to work together and upvote stickers to vote on project ideas.
- Make sure this is part of the budget and event set up. You'll need 5-6 post-it pads, colorful markers and highlighters, pens and pencils, sharpies, and fun stickers to upvote (each participant gets 3 to vote on project ideas).
- This is another item that you want to start as early as possible. For donations, you'll want to consider if you can physically pick up the goods because most places will not deliver. Often coffee and pastries are easy donations, though you may be able to arrange for full meals to be donated with enough notice
- Be sure to consider that donations generally come as-is and you may need to get additional supplies for a full spread.
- If you have the option, breakfast and snacks can be easily accommodated with what's offered at the grocery store and usually budget-friendly. Think granola and yogurt, fruit, bagel and spreads.
Happy hour event space
- For a one-time, short, after-hours events, places are generally happy to host the space for free. Be sure to thank them in your remarks as well as give them an opportunity to speak about the space and their involvement.
- The location should be centrally located and easy to find. If not, then you'll need to provide detailed instructions (though you want to avoid that if possible).
- Try to find a location that is open so that people can move around from board to board and socialize with one another. Tables should be limited to supporting food/drink and brainstorming materials; a lectern is best for opening remarks.
Weekend hacking space
- This location should also be centrally located. It's common to get space donated for these events, especially from city partners. Locations of note have been the Innovation Lab and the SEPTA building. Co-working spaces are ideal since they make meals easier to DIY.
- Check out the space before committing to it as a final location. You'll need to make sure that it can support about 30-40 people at tables working on computers with a reliable wi-fi network connection. You'll also want to think about how food will be delivered, served and stored.
- A big key to the event is proper promotion. In general, we use the #apps4philly hashtag on Twitter, our main social media channel.
Before the event: create a list that holds all the preferred Twitter handles and hashtags of partners including organizations that have provided data, space, cash, donations or other forms of sponsorship. This will come in handy as you're creating promotion and want to include all the other organizations/groups involved in making it possible. This is important because by tagging those other organizations, you increase the reach of the event as well as Code for Philly
- Create a press release or at a minimum alert the Code for Philly media contacts about the events and whatever details you may have available. Juicy details include space, partners, and data released for the event.
- A blog post (ideally posted on the Code for Philly site) can help provide a good overview and incentive for members to attend the event; it also serves as context for media outlets who may need more information on the event to write about it.
During the event: provide the Code for Philly Twitter and hashtag at a minimum for participants to Tweet about the event. Ideally, give them the relevant Twitter handles to Tweet at partners and donors for the event. This is a key metric for asking for sponsorship at future dates.
Read the "How do I? Run Code for Philly signature hackathon?" thread for more details on how to run a hackthon on the day of.