When you face a challenge at home, in your career, or in life, do you leverage the power of questions to discover, learn, and reveal possibilities? Do you evaluate how to move forward? With well-structured, specific questions serving as a means of inquiry, we discover the unknown so that we can make smart, more effective choices in our lives.

The motivation for this blog came from an audio book I listened to while on my daily walk. The author sparked me to question the typical philanthropic perspective. I realized that questions were the roots of Aspire to Give, the creation of the Appreciative Donor Learning Process, and of “donor-outlook philanthropy”. As shared in a previous blog, the Appreciative Donor Learning Process serves as the roadmap for individuals to learn to become better donors to both their families and meaningful causes.

Let me explain what I mean by donor-outlook philanthropy. When I refer to donor-outlook, I am referencing the perspective of the individual donor. What are the aspirational hopes and dreams as viewed through the eyes and the heart of the donor or aspiring philanthropist? … And, what might a donor do to achieve these hopes and dreams – their goals?

The book I listened to is titled A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger. In his book, Mr. Berger documents, in great detail, his research on how the use of intentional, well-structured questions has been used throughout history to advance humankind. With numerous recent examples of Steve Jobs, Apple, Airbnb, Nike, Netflix, and more, he methodically proves that the source of all innovation is inquiry – asking questions.

What does this have to do with philanthropy and, specifically, the individual and donor-outlook philanthropy? Let me explain.

In his book, Mr. Berger shares the very simple concept: Questions + Action = Innovation; or, more simply, Q+A=I.

But wait! If you look at the original concept of Q + A = I, this formula seems to be lacking a goal for the innovation - there is a suppressed premise! For the individual, the goal represents the dreams and hopes of the donor. These dreams, hopes, and aspirations reflect a vision (“V”) that we all spiritually hold in one form or another for ourselves, our families, and our causes.

Now, let’s apply this formula to the individual donor as a means to advance philanthropy. How might we innovate and unleash the inherent potential of donors to learn to become better givers to their families and meaningful causes?

If we say (1) inquiry is questioning and (2) it is the donor asking the questions, then we have a new concept from the viewpoint of the donor: Donor Outlook Questioning or “DOQ”. It is the donor asking questions on how to achieve their hopes and dreams that is manifested in their goals.

Now, let’s look more closely at the “A” (acting) part of Berger’s original concept (Q+A=I). Who is doing the acting - the “doing”, or “making things happen”?

It is the individual donor, of course! Each of us has hopes and dreams for the future, for our family, our community, and the world. We each have an inherent desire to reach out to “do good”. So, in this simple equation, the "A" becomes the actions of the individual donor. Now what do we have? The original concept of Q+A=I now becomes: (DOQ) +A +V= I. Condensed to simple wording, the donor focuses on asking intentional, well-structured questions from their perspective on how to act (do) to achieve their vision ( goals). Berger's original concept of Q + A = I has been adapted to the field of philanthropy and more specifically, tailored to individual “donor-outlook philanthropy” that is powered by donor-outlook questioning (DOQ).

Let's look at the source of philanthropic social innovation to advance philanthropy. The innovation is a paradigm shift to view from the donor’s perspective. All we need now are donors schooled with the knowledge, tools, and questioning techniques! With a proven learning roadmap in hand, the donor is now motivated and empowered to do more for their family and philanthropic causes.

There you have it! We tailored Berger’s simple proven recipe of Q + A = I into donor-outlook philanthropy that is fueled with questions. What is critical in this process is to provide and tailor the learning program to the donor - to the aspiring philanthropist. This learning program teaches the donor how to tap and leverage their personal strengths to do more good for their family and outreach.

Stay tuned! This donor learning program is nearly complete. This learning program - the Aspirational Philanthropist Learning Program - will be released later this year through Auburn University's Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies. Through this program, we will be advancing philanthropy – donor-outlook philanthropy - one giving heart, one aspiring donor at a time!

Start Your Giving Journey Today

If you are interested in learning more about Aspire to Give®'s pursuit to advance philanthropy through donor-focused education, social innovation, collaboration, and advocacy, please reach out to Greg Doepke: Greg@AspiretoGive.com

Disclosure: Greg Doepke is the founder and principal of Aspire to Give®, a social enterprise that donates 100% of all profits to charity and is dedicated to unleashing the human spirit to advance philanthropy through donor education, social innovation, collaboration, and advocacy.
The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are not representative of the views of ACG Advisory Services, Inc. or the Actuarial Consulting Group, Inc. of Midlothian, Virginia. Each client and prospective client agrees, as a condition of precedent to his/her/its access to Aspire to Give®’s website to release and hold harmless ACG Advisory Services, Inc. and Actuarial Consulting Group, Inc., their officers, directors, owners, employees, and agents from any and all adverse consequences resulting from any of his/her/its actions and/or omissions which are independent of his/her/its receipt of personalized advice from Aspire to Give® or Gregory W. Doepke.