Excuse me, but I have a few questions

If you are an executive director, fundraising professional or board volunteer of a non-profit agency, then you are a leader. There is no arguing this fact. It is a basic truism. As a non-profit consultant, I am always assessing the effectiveness of an organization’s leadership group, and one of the biggest things I look for inside the boardroom is “who is asking questions” and “what types of questions are being asked“.

Tony Stoltzfus wrote a book that is popular among many executive coaches — “Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Questions“. At the very beginning of this book, he outlines some of the reasons why asking questions is more powerful than just talking and telling. The following are three of those reasons that I believe apply to your non-profit organization:

  1. Asking empowers
  2. Asking develops leadership capacity
  3. Asking creates authenticity

Let’s zoom in and examine exactly what Tony says about the second reason . . . “asking develops leadership capacity”:

Leadership is the ability to take responsibility. A leader is someone who sees a problem, and says, “Hey — someone needs to do something about this! And I’m going to be that someone.” Simply asking, “What could you do about that?” moves people away from depending on you for answers, and toward taking leadership in the situation. Asking builds the responsibility muscle, and that develops leaders.

What questions do you ask yourself and others? What questions are board members asking often? What about donors . . . what are your donors asking you? Do the people who your agency serves ask questions. If so, what are they?

Today’s blog post is what I call a “springboard post” because it will serve as a launching pad for a series of future blogs. So, tomorrow’s post and next week’s posts will zoom in and look at powerful questions that different stakeholders typically ask and what you should do about it and how you should encourage it. So, stay tuned to DonorDreams blog, and in the meantime please share some of those powerful questions you’ve used or heard others use in the comment box below.

I think Rudyard Kipling stated it best, when he said:

I keep six honest serving-men,
They taught me all I knew;
Their names are What and Why and When,
And How and Where and Who.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC


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