4 Questions To Answer And Charge Ahead To Get the Results You Want For Your Nonprofit

I recently spoke to a room of executives who were there because they were “stuck” and frustrated with one hurdle or another in their nonprofit organization. To get at the heart of the matter, we zeroed in on some key questions. The result? Aha moments, break-throughs and excitement about what now seemed possible!

So sit down with your team and have an honest discussion. I think you’ll be surprised how you might see things differently and be ready to charge ahead.

Answer these questions, be bold and take charge of your future:

1. Who currently influences what we do?  This could spark some interesting debate! You want to be clear about this because you may not be as self-aware as you think. Or you may be missing something critical about who should be influencing what you do. Are your decisions always in the best interest of the organization? Does the community have a voice – how are you engaging them? Do you have blinders on? Are you trying to please everyone? Who may have too much influence? This is a great opportunity to be honest and make a shift in how you make decisions.

2. How do we measure success? I am always amazed at how narrow the responses are to this question. For example, if you hold workshops in the community, how do you know they are successful? By the number of workshops? That’s good to know, but what about the effect the workshop had on participants? How have you improved their situation? This directly relates to your vision. It clarifies where you should focus. How can you work toward something if you don’t know what that something is? Will you measure dollars, social engagement, increase in new members, donor retention? Think about what’s working well now. Are there things you’re doing that seem unnecessary or distracting? Is growth a goal? There are no limits here…..think of what is possible and be bold!

3. What don’t we know that we need to know?  You don’t have all the answers, or there would be no challenges.  And it’s not really possible to stay in the status quo – you will start to move backward. When you can proactively think about what additional information would be useful, you can speed up your progress. So think about what you know about your different audiences and constituents, for instance.  What about your marketing efforts – any missing data? Or maybe it’s a particular skill set that’s absent – perhaps no one has background in managing program volunteers. What would help you work toward a solution to your biggest hurdle? What would help you make the best decisions? If you need more help figuring this out, great! Ask someone you trust outside the organization to talk it through with you.

4. How are we investing in leadership? I saved the best for last.  The top reason organizations struggle is due to a leadership issue: weak leadership, a gap in leadership, leaders who don’t understand their role, etc. So think about how you educate and develop board members. When was the last time you intentionally invested in a meaningful development activity? Is there a training plan in place for the CEO? Do they participate in peer groups? This is not an expense; it’s an investment of resources to ensure the organization’s leadership is well-equipped to go forward.

What if you spent 10 minutes this long holiday weekend, as you’re outside relaxing in the fresh air, to think about these questions? Then decide on your next step to bring key members of your team together for an open discussion.

I bet your discussion leads to other great questions.

And before you know it, you’ll be charging forward toward your goals!