Creating Credibility & Culture: Part II What is Your Why?

What is your why? Or more specifically, what is the why of your board members, employees, volunteers, and beneficiaries?

This question may seem like a no-brainer until you actually try and answer it.

Is your organization challenged by poor governance, a high turn-over staff rate, or disgruntled beneficiaries? It may be due to not asking these four questions that will articulate your ‘why’.

The four questions:

  1. What is your main passion for you being on this board/organization/beneficiary?
  2. What do you have to offer?
  3. What do you want in return?
  4. What change do you want to see by the end of your term/or end of the year?

These questions are great to be answered independently or within a group setting. I like the group setting as it creates dialogue and refines the mission and vision of the organization. I recommend doing this at least annually at board and staff retreats. As far as your beneficiaries, this is something you can also do annually or semi-annually. The great thing is you can use the answers to these questions as data, and also as a guide to focus on what grants and funding to secure.

Question One: What is your main passion for being on this board/organization/beneficiary?

This is a great question to really start the conversation with purpose and focus.

Board members can define why they are passionate to be on your board. Usually, it is due to having some kind of stake in the mission and vision of what your organization does. Employees and/or volunteers may answer this in the same light, or they may have totally different reasons. Beneficiaries may be there to receive services and are passionate to be a part of what your organization does.

Question Two: What do you have to offer?

This question is great as it allows people to identify what they bring to the table, while at the same time recognizing their own value.

Board members may offer their professional skills, such as being a CPA and offering financial expertise, or networks with funding sources. Employees and/or volunteers may offer community development skills, specific expertise in social services, or grant writing skills. Beneficiaries may offer great insight into what your community needs.

Question Three: What do you want in return?

I love this question. This question allows people to really see that they also get value and aren’t there to just give, give, give. This may be the most illuminating question that prevents burnout and negative energy.

Board members may want something that is not tangible, such as increasing their networks. Employees may want a living wage so they can continue their work. Volunteers may want training to increase their skills. Beneficiaries may want tangible resources, such as housing, food, programs, and so forth.

Question Four: What change do you want to see by the end of your term/or end of the year?

This is a great question to ask board members what impact they want to see by the end of their term. You can also pose this question for employees of what impact they want to see within their own job position and what impact they want the organization to achieve by the end of the year. Beneficiaries may answer this question in light of what change they want in their life by the end of their time within the project (if it is time-bound) or by the end of the year.

There it is. The four questions that can articulate your why and prevent burnout and staff turnover!

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