Last week I watched a meet-and-greet between the board of a non-profit and their members. The board isn’t popular, so maybe that’s why they looked tense and wary during the Q&A. It’s hard to appear receptive and inviting when you feel on the defensive. If so, they could have faked it better if they’d followed some basic rules of meeting with volunteers, members or donors.
If you’re in a position of authority, you need to worry about more than getting your facts right. You need to care about how you deliver them. Good will is one of a non-profit’s greatest resources. Being right doesn’t matter if you’ve ticked off your constituency or made them distrustful. Every face-to-face encounter is a chance to convey that the people running a non-profit are receptive, responsive and responsible. Whether or not you feel that way, it’s your job to look like you care.