Can you repeat the question?

May 26, 2020

At some point, your nonprofit was an idea – an Aha! Moment – an answer.

Someone (or a group of someones) deeply cared about an unmet need in your community. And they got curious. So they gathered together, they brainstormed, they got excited, they inspired others, they secured resources, they did the paperwork, they had the first meetings.

Chances are they did it for free and with joy, they faced some obstacles and they were proud of what they accomplished. I bet they even had a little fun. Making waves, a labor of love, a force to be reckoned with – a group of citizens who sought an answer – and found one. That spirit of collaboration and enthusiasm happens when people are joined together through shared curiosity and the relentless pursuit of the same question. 

I’m reading (and recommending) A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger. He describes the series of questions we (intuitively) ask when approaching a problem: Why? What If? and How? 

The someone(s) that started your nonprofit asked these questions, too. It may have gone something like this:

Why does this problem exist?
What if there was a service, resource, program?
How would that work? (Your beautiful nonprofit was born right here.)

And then they got to work. And now, here we are.

So What? Now What? 

Here’s my question for you:

Does your team know the question your organization was born to answer?
Don’t blink past this. Don’t assume.

Engage and Connect:

If you want to recapture the same creative spirit that gave life to your organization, check in to see if you’re pursuing the same question.

Ask your staff and board: “If our organization was the answer  – what was the question?” Gather the responses. Share. Discuss. And (ahem) … have fun.

An exercise like this can give great insight, spark ideas, uncover obstacles, offer clarity. It can help build trust on a team.


Be playful. Turn your mission statement into a question. How does that sound?

Let’s be honest. Answers are easy. We can ask Siri, Alexa, Google, or our know-it-all Uncle Jay (Sorry, Uncle Jay.) Answers are everywhere.
But, what was the question?

Connected through good work ♡  ~

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