This past weekend we facilitated a strategy session for the board of directors of a local non-profit. Our major objective was to create a greater level of engagement among the board (especially among its large percentage of new members) and to focus their efforts on their number one challenge—funding.

Most facilitators would have focused on the funding challenge and brainstormed different funding sources and alternative ways to raise money. We did not.

Rather we began a process of deeply connecting each board member with the Soulful Purpose ™ of the organization and creating a clear picture of what they wanted to create in the future. But this was not an intellectual exercise: it was a deeply felt connection and expression of what this organization was truly about.

We started by having members of the board perform a little improvisation. We had one member play their typical client and another person play a staff member. Then we replayed it again, but this time the organization did not exist and so there was no place for the client to turn. This little exercise did more to create a sense of the purpose and a shared commitment to its mission than any mission/vision/values exercises they had done before.

Next we had the board define the future they wanted to create. We separated the board into three groups. The first group had to draw a picture that depicted the future. The second group had to create a news story datelined 3 years from today that spoke of what the organization was doing and accomplishing and how it had gotten to that point over the last three years. And the third group acted the future.

Each group represented the future in slightly different ways but all had similar themes. Combined, they created a real sense of what the board dreamed this organization could be and would become. And they were clearly aligned and fully engaged in creating their desired future.

“What about the funding issue?” you ask. We addressed it, but in a completely different way than how they had been addressing it. We shifted their focus to who would be engaged and enthused by their mission, excited to help them.

They began to realize that instead of going to funding sources, such as corporations, and foundations asking for money, they were going to enroll people and organizations in their mission. They were going to create partners in a mission rather than funders of a cause.

The board is now focused on building a community of people and organizations who are as passionate and committed to their mission as they are. And just as each board member found their unique way to contribute to the mission, they trusted that each member of their community whether a corporation, foundation or individual would find a way to express their commitment. It could be in providing volunteers from their employee base, it could be opportunities to create awareness in the community about the services available, or it could be money.

The important thing is that they are no longer going to go with their hats in their hands begging for money. Rather they are going to offer opportunities to partners who can make a difference and feel drawn to their unique mission.

This blog is about how to bring life back into organizations. Whether a non-profit or a for-profit, organizations are living beings who want to create and contribute. Their Soulful Purpose™ is the reason they exist. When everyone involved feels deeply connected to this purpose and has a deep feeling and commitment to what they are collectively creating, the energy available to manifest the desire future is abundantly available.

How do you engage your employees, your customers, and your community in your purpose? How do you keep your purpose alive in their minds?