When you think of etiquette, you likely think of things like keeping your elbows off the table or not talking with your mouth full. As a society, we have certain rules or conventions we’ve agreed to regarding the proper way to behave in certain settings.
Well, business etiquette is the same thing: It’s about how we behave or interact with others in our work environment. And while most of the personal rules we tend to agree on apply in a work setting as well (nobody needs to see your lunch while you’re talking about your fundraising goals for next quarter), here are three tips specific to business etiquette and growing your nonprofit. (And yes, like your mama told you, manners DO matter.)
1. Be responsive. Whether it’s with the people you serve, your volunteers, your funders, or your critics, show them you’re listening. It’s great to be passionate about your mission. It’s better still to make sure what you’re offering aligns with the needs of your stakeholders. Are you paying attention when your clients tell you what they need? Are you delivering on promised deliverables to grant funders? Are you communicating—both when things are going well and when you hit an inevitable obstacle or challenge?
You want buy-in from others if you’re looking to grow your nonprofit. An easy way to get that? Let them know their feedback matters.
2. Be collaborative. There are lots of nonprofits out there, each doing important work. And the reality is that you will often find yourself competing against other nonprofits for finite resources. Despite that, resist the urge to develop an “us against them” attitude. Instead, be open to partnerships and collaborations. Together, you can pool resources and, more importantly, amplify your collective impact.
3. Be generous. Thank your donors. Recognize your volunteers. Celebrate your team members. As a nonprofit, you’ll likely always be worried about funding. But lucky for you, praise, attention, and time are free. Share them generously with those who support the work you do.
If you’re interested in growing your nonprofit (and even if you’re not), don’t underestimate the value being responsive, collaborative, and generous can have on the work you do.