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7 Deep Dive Questions for Nonprofit Board Meeting Discussions

Sometimes our board meeting discussions are consumed with the regular work of the board – financial statements, upcoming events, and reports. We’ve written about energizing your board meetings in a previous blog. One additional way to bring new energy into the board room is to ask some provocative questions for discussion. Giving members an opportunity to “dream big” helps everyone to remember why they are excited about the mission and the future.

deep dive questions for nonprofit board meeting discussion

Ask a question to excite board members about the future of the nonprofit. It can help to prepare for a strategic plan update or an upcoming strategic planning session. It doesn’t have to take up more than 30 minutes of a meeting, but can result in big ideas, solutions and enthusiasm. Furthermore, nothing builds rapport and loyalty among board members like a feeling of shared optimism. “Deep dive” board meeting discussion questions are a great way to improve board engagement and provide a rewarding board member experience.

RELATED: How to Connect Board Members to Your Nonprofit Mission

Here are some questions to give new life to your next board meeting discussion:

What are you most proud of? What’s going well right now?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a positive and uplifting discussion about great work that is taking place? Put an appreciative spin on your board meeting that makes staff and board members feel good about their work.

What was your best moment in the organization?

Have board members interview each other in pairs and then report out to the whole board. First, it helps to remember good feelings about something that happened. Second, having the partners report on the other person’s best moment puts the spotlight on the good things that board members are doing, and earns them some praise from their fellows.

What needs our immediate attention going forward, and how can we support each other in taking the next steps?

Is there something that leadership isn’t thinking about yet? Board officers, committee chairs and staff report out to the board, but do we ever ask about what we haven’t discussed? That second part of the question can keep the board meeting discussion from being “you know what you should do . .” and more of a “how can we help” discussion.

Where do you see this organization in a couple of years? What seed might we plant together today that could make the most difference to the future of the organization?

What growth potential is there in the organization? You may be surprised and pleased at the ideas that pop up in a discussion like this. Conversely, if everyone has wildly different visions, it might be an indication to schedule a follow up discussion to get in alignment. The second question here is inspiring on two levels. First, it makes the work of planning for the future more manageable by breaking it down into something we can do today. Secondly, framing the action as something you’re doing together helps build rapport and unity in your board.

What does AWESOME look like for our nonprofit?

We all strive for “awesome” in our work. Board members are no different. They want their contributions of time, talent, and treasure to matter. Ask them what they see in the future that will tell them that they’ve made a huge difference in achieving the mission. 

Tailor board meeting discussion questions to your mission.

Do you have specific questions you think would promote interesting conversations? Think about what positive topics have gone unsaid in your meetings. Ask everyone to name their favorite event, tell about a volunteer they’ve met, or a mission story that has stuck with them over the years.

We’d love to hear what questions you come up with or how the board meeting discussion goes! Email Coach Kim and we’ll talk about them in our next Ask Coach Kim blog post or webinar.

RELATED: Board Retreats: How to Make them Great

Interested in how to make your board of directors more engaged through the use of technology? Boardable is a software platform that centralizes all communication between you and your board. Find the best meeting times, securely store all of your documents, archive discussion threads and more—all in one place. Click below to schedule a demo with a member of our Boardable team.

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