Guidelines and Email Courtesies

For Ambassadors

The Leap Ambassadors Community is a community of practice and learning for nonprofit and public sector professionals. We strive to make the community safe and inspiring for all ambassadors. There are no onerous rules—simply guidelines based on common sense, courtesy, and respect.

In practice, communities naturally create norms that grow over time and are handed down to new participants. It’s these norms—not rules—that form the “terms of engagement” of a community. A sense of community ultimately emerges from its members.

These simple guidelines outline expected community behaviors. They are meant to encourage norms that nurture the spirit of community.

Guidelines

Respect the privacy of the community. Like Vegas, “What happens in the community stays in the community—whether in online exchanges, conference calls, and/or in-person meetings.” Discussions within the community are private for ambassadors and should not be shared or posted publicly elsewhere. Unless there is explicit agreement, ambassadors do not share community content—whether an email exchange or a draft of a work in progress—beyond the community. This expectation applies to all community and micro-community discussions, in-person gatherings and convenings, and the private area of the Leap Ambassadors website. Only ambassadors or their trusted administrators have access to online community.

The Leap Ambassadors Community is meant to be a safe and supportive space for leaders. The community includes nonprofit leaders, funders, consultants, educators, government and healthcare professionals, and more. To keep it a safe and supportive space, we remind ambassadors that it’s not a place for nonprofits to ask funders for money, or consultants to solicit for clients or to sell your products even though you think they would be helpful to others. But rather, it’s a place to build relationships, make connections, learn from one another and share questions, expertise, and resources.

Be welcoming. As the community grows, our collective intelligence grows with it. Authentic and active participation among ambassadors empowers others to share their experiences. Your actions help determine the perception of the community, both internally and externally.

Take full advantage of available expertise and knowledge. One of the benefits of a community like ours is the opportunity to engage openly with leaders who share the community’s purpose and are credible, thoughtful, and passionate about their work. Chances are that at least one ambassador has insights to share on any given topic or challenge another ambassador faces. This is a safe environment for ambassadors to ask for advice, support, and guidance.

Be respectful, but don’t avoid healthy debate. Reasonable people can and often do disagree about how best to advance ideas and values of mutual concern. Within any group, tensions inevitably arise, and from time to time inflammatory topics surface. It’s possible and useful to engage in healthy debate and agree to disagree. We strive to go the extra step to look out for each other. Don’t just aim to be technically unimpeachable, try to be your best self.

Foster equity and inclusion. The community integrates equity and inclusion in all we do. We ask that ambassadors do what they can to create an equitable community through awareness, attitude, verbal and written communication, and collaborative development. It’s important for each ambassador to feel welcomed and included as belonging and psychological safety are critical to trusting relationships and connections.

Consider your audience. Although we strongly encourage posting to the full community, some responses are better handled directly. For example, if an ambassador requests information about an organization or person, consider directing your feedback to the ambassador posing the question. One-to-one conversations allow for candor and discretion, if necessary.  If a topic becomes an exchange among two or three ambassadors, moving the discussion offline or to a micro-community (with the assistance of the community facilitator, if helpful or need be) and then coming back with a summary may yield greater benefit.

Be open and fully transparent. If you have a vested interest in a discussion topic or project, we expect you to be the first to point out that interest. Ambassadors certainly can share their proprietary or copyrighted material for review by the community. But when doing so, ambassadors should clearly state that the material is not deemed the intellectual property of the community.

Honor intellectual property rights. Any new content collaboratively developed for sharing publicly is published under a copyright and Creative Commons license to allow others to disseminate, use, and/or enrich the content (with appropriate attribution). Ambassadors help maintain the community’s integrity by submitting content they have personally written or used with the proper permission and attribution. All recognize the community should not be used to distribute unauthorized copies of any copyrighted material.

Help look after your community. Facilitators make every effort to deal with tensions and encourage ambassadors to participate in discussions constructively. In the case of conflict within the community, facilitators will mediate the situation for resolution on a case-by-case basis, including reaching out directly to resolve, redirect, or mitigate, e.g., taking the discussion offline, following up with a phone call. Ambassadors should contact a support team member whenever there’s a concern about any of the community discussions.

Community Email Courtesies

Respecting each other includes respecting each other’s inboxes. Ambassadors are extremely busy, and we’re committed to making the best use of everyone’s time. Following a few basic guidelines helps keep our online dialogues  substantive and focused on our community purpose.

Posting. Every email you send to the community should feel like something you would say to colleagues or friends over dinner. We’re interested in tapping each other’s knowledge and insights in a relational way. When you share articles, reports, and other links, please provide a few lines of context—the backstory, relevance, or your questions, hopes, or concerns. Ironically, we also encourage you to be as brief as possible: “Good things, when short, are twice as good.”—Baltasar Gracián

Their Inbox, Not Yours. When you send an email to the community, a copy of your email may not appear in your own inbox (there are a few exceptions). It’s just like sending a regular email. Your email appears in the inboxes of those you’ve sent it to, but not your own.

PBS (Pause Before Sending). When you post or reply to a community message, keep in mind that it goes to EVERYONE in the community!  It’s a good idea to PBS, especially when you really want to get a point across or respond to a message with which you disagree.

Boundaries. Posts to the community are meant for ambassadors only. Please don’t cc other members of your organization on community threads or forward them (even excerpts) to people outside the community

Replying. If you wish to reply only to the individual sender of a community post (and not the entire community), forward the message to the individual ambassador or remove the community email address from the reply line and replace it with that ambassador’s individual email address. As a rule of thumb, DON’T HIT REPLY OR REPLY ALL unless you want everyone in the community to see your email.

Offering Congrats and Thanks. Please do let other ambassadors know when you like what they’re sharing or bringing to the conversation. However, we ask you to send non-substantive, short expressions of support (e.g., congrats and thanks) directly to fellow ambassadors rather than the whole community. Again, just replace the community email address in the reply line with the ambassador’s individual email address.

Sensitive Topics. Ambassadors share a common purpose and commitment, but in a group of our size, it’s better to address sensitive topics one-on-one or in smaller groups. Don’t shy away from controversial or sensitive responses if they are relevant to our purpose, but we ask that you do so off the main community thread. If ever in doubt, the Leap team is always here to help you navigate.

No Messages? Your organization may unexpectedly introduce or update spam filters and you may stop getting messages from the community.  If you see no community messages over a couple of weeks, check to see if they’re getting trapped in an email spam filter.

Delete Key. We all have times when we’re overwhelmed by back-to-back meetings, project deadlines, and day-to-day responsibilities. A jammed inbox just adds to the stress. When you have a day (or week) like that, feel free to use the delete key on community messages. Scan the subject line if you can, and then hit DELETE. No guilt, we promise. We believe in engagement “in your own way and in your own timeframe.” If it’s really important, we’ll come back to you directly.

For suggestions or concerns about our community Ground Rules or Email Courtesies, please contact a member of the Leap Ambassadors support team.

The Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community is a private community of experts and leaders who believe that mission and performance are inextricably linked. Our resources are collaboratively developed and offered to the field to support organizations on their journeys to high performance.

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