Five Powerful Minutes | Funding for Good

by Brian Gott

Let’s say you have a big event next year and you want to start prospecting for new sponsors (and in fundraising, who doesn’t?).

Many sponsorship seekers – and I’ve experienced this first hand – will put together a list of companies/contacts they’d like to recruit, put together a proposal, and email it to as many of those people as they can, with attachments, of course, that might not ever get read.

It’s not a completely terrible approach. I’ve done it myself and with some success.

But here’s a better idea…

Call your potential sponsor/contact and ask for five minutes of their time. Just five. That’s it. And be very specific about it when you ask.

Hello Joe. This is Susan from the Springfield Rescue Mission and I would love to stop by and introduce myself and only take five minutes of your time. That’s it. Just five minutes. I will be near your office on Wednesday morning. Can I just stop in and introduce myself? I promise I will be in and out in five minutes.

I promise you will get a meeting if you are flexible with your time.

The person you are calling on will either say, “Sure” or “Wednesday is horrible, can you make it Friday?” or something similar.

An important side note: Keep calling until you reach your contact’s live voice. Do NOT leave a message and ask for a return phone call.


Because then you have just actually added to your potential sponsor’s already busy day of tasks and have immediately created a negative neuro-association. Trust me on this one. They also might start mentally preparing their ‘We are already over budget. Contact me after the first of the year‘ speech and you will be out of luck.

When you go in for your five-minute power meeting, lead off with, “I just wanted to say hello, introduce myself, and I will be out of your hair in five minutes.” And take a watch so you can be sure to keep it to five minutes.

Your contact will be shocked. Nobody ever wants just five minutes. If you stick to that, you will be putting a friendly face to your charities name and building a relationship with your new contact.

Do not give them any paperwork to look over. And don’t ask for anything. I repeat, don’t ask for anything. Not at your first meeting.

Tell them why you got involved with your charity and make it personal.

Next, use your five minutes to ask a powerful question.

That powerful question – one that almost never gets asked is coming next 

Let’s talk about what to do – and not do – when you get those five powerful minutes.

As I mentioned, do not ask for anything and do not hand your prospective new client anything to read. It will likely be dropped on top of a pile of other things he or she has been given and hasn’t had a chance to read that have not yet made it to the trash bin. Or it will just go right to the trash.

You can give them those things after and only after you’ve established a relationship.

Tell the person you are meeting with briefly why you got involved with the organization you are working for. Make it personal.

And then ask your new contact a powerful question – one that in my experience seldom gets asked – but should:

“What are your biggest challenges for the next six months and how can I help you achieve them?”

Your new contact will quickly become your new friend.

One of the reasons I was so successful finding sponsors for Mecklenburg County’s programs and services during the Great Recession was because I did just that. I learned quickly that if I wanted sponsorships and if I wanted repeat sponsorships, I had better be prepared to deliver something to the companies I was working with. Something THEY wanted; not something we thought they wanted.

Generally, companies want people to walk through their doors and spend money. That’s the only way they can stay in business, keep employees, and support community events. And they are faced with tighter operating budgets and more competition all the time.

That’s where you come in.

Your job now is to come up with ways that you can get what you want by helping your new friend achieve some of his or her objectives.

It is not as difficult as it sounds. You can do it. For some ideas on how to do this, check back with us next week.