Last updated: 4th October, 2023

1. Key Information

Length: Full-day event (around 10 hours). Prep can range from ~20-40 hours.

Cost: Requires money for venue, food, marketing, and prizes.

Target Audience: Action-oriented proto EAs, fellowship graduates interested in testing fit/building skills, more engaged club members looking to build legible projects, and people looking for research/project collaborators.

2. Important considerations


  • Can attract talented, action-oriented individuals!
  • Can offer high-quality lectures on object-level content and interactions with mentors in the space and promote connections with peers interested in the content of the hackathon.
  • Presents EA (or EA cause area) as a serious and professional movement with opportunities for ambitious individuals.
  • Allows people to test their fit for object-level work in a fun, engaging way!
  • Connects like-minded people and could result in further project collaboration in the future.
  • Can produce impactful project ideas and outcomes.

Things to consider:

  • Requires a significant time commitment from participants, potentially limiting participation.
  • One-off events take way more planning per engagement usually – so be careful about which events you choose to run and when.
  • Demands careful planning and execution, involving substantial effort and resources.
  • Marketing can be challenging, and participants might not be directly inclined to join groups after a hackathon.
  • Event expenses can add up, including venue, food, and prizes.

3. Preparation

Venue and Logistics:

  • Confirm venue reservation, ensuring it has required amenities (whiteboards, projector).
  • Test audiovisual equipment (projector, microphone) to avoid technical glitches.
  • Plan seating arrangements for lectures, brainstorming sessions, and presentations.

Supplies and Materials:

  • Prepare event materials, including name tags, schedules, and handouts.
  • Procure whiteboards, markers, and presentation materials for teams.
  • Have extra supplies like pens, notepads, and extension cords on hand.
  • Order swag like t-shirts or stickers for the event (optional).

Catering and Meals:

  • Arrange for snacks, drinks, and meals throughout the day.
  • Accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences of participants.
  • Plan breaks and meal times to allow participants to recharge.

Communication and Promotion:

  • Send out event invitations and reminders to registered participants.
  • Create and share clear directions to the venue for easy navigation.
  • Prepare and share pre-event study materials.
  • Establish communication channels (e.g., Slack/Discord)
  • Prepare marketing materials, such as flyers and social media posts.

Agenda and Timing:

  • Develop a detailed event schedule, allocating time for each session.
  • Set realistic time limits for each phase to ensure a smooth flow.
  • Share the schedule with participants and mentors in advance.

Mentors and Judges:

  • Confirm participation of mentors and judges, ensuring they are aligned with event goals.
  • Provide mentors with background materials and guidelines for supporting teams.
  • Prepare judging criteria and guidelines for consistent evaluations.

Pre-Event Preparation:

  • Test-run presentations and lectures to ensure smooth delivery.
  • Conduct a run-through of the event flow with organizers and volunteers.
  • Address potential technical issues and have backup plans in place.

Networking and Engagement:

  • Plan icebreaker activities to help participants connect and build rapport.
  • Prepare discussion prompts and facilitation materials for ideation sessions.
  • Designate volunteers to facilitate group activities and manage discussions.

Awards and Prizes:

  • Procure prizes for winning teams or individuals, ensuring they align with event objectives.
  • Create a clear process for announcing winners and distributing prizes.
  • Have people collect swag (optional).

Post-Event Follow-Up:

  • Design a feedback survey to gather insights from participants and mentors.
  • Collect contact information for further engagement and updates.
  • Plan post-event communications, including thank-you notes and follow-up emails.

4. Event Structure

  • Pre-prep for the event (Early Morning): Set up snacks and refreshments, make sure tech equipment is working, and prepare the venue with proper signage, etc.
  • Registration and Welcome (Morning): Participants check in and receive event materials.
    • Welcome speech and introduction to effective altruism.
  • Introductory Lecture (Morning): Engaging lecture on effective altruism and AI alignment.
  • Ideation and Team Formation (Morning): Individual brainstorming of project ideas.
  • Team formation and idea sharing.
  • Hacking Phase (Afternoon): Teams work on project development with mentorship.
  • Presentation Preparation (Late Afternoon): Teams finalize presentations and practice (or finalize submissions depending on format).
  • Project Presentations and Judging (Evening): Teams present projects to judges and peers.
  • Winner Announcement and Networking (Evening): Winning teams are announced and awarded + a networking session to connect and share.
  • Closing Remarks (Evening):
  • Organizers express gratitude and encourage continued engagement.

5. Further resources

Here are some helpful links for running a hackathon!

How others have run hackathons and what they learned:

Other templates for running a hackathon:

Learn more about hackathons:

  • Check out Hackathons - EA Forum to see what a hackathon is, posts of other people hosting hackathons, and info on different kinds of hackathons!
  • A non-EA guide to running hackathons that is very comprehensive and defines hackathons as well as gives lots of tips and tricks: Hackathon Guide by Joshua Tauberer.