Know which questions to ask

Asking questions is important. But, just as important is knowing when to ask the right question, Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas wrote in their book “Power Questions.”

There are many questions that could be asked of and about nonprofits, but Sobel and Panas offer one that can be extremely relevant: “How will this further your mission and goals?”

It’s a good question, but the authors went on to suggest more possibilities, such as when to use the question. They suggested:

  • When you see someone doing things that are inconsistent with the core mission;
  • When someone is making a decision to invest significant time and resources in a new direction; and,
  • When you suspect the other person has not thought through what the mission and goals really are.

Then, there are alternative versions of the question:

  • Can you remind me of your mission and goals?
  • Is this consistent with your values and beliefs?

And there are follow-up questions.

  • Why/Why not?
  • Are there other ideas or initiatives you’re considering that would also support your mission — which also merit consideration?