I was lucky enough to facilitate the Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corporation’s fundraising portion of their Board retreat a couple of weeks ago. Board retreats are a great opportunity for Board and staff to meet and address head-on some of the more challenging issues facing the organization. Holding the retreat offsite (if possible), gives everyone a chance to step back from the day-to-day minutia and look at the bigger picture.
I recommend a Board Retreat if the organization:
• Needs to identify key issues and challenges facing the organization
• Review the mission, values or vision statements
• Needs to set goals
• Needs to prepare for strategic planning
• Would like to expand and improve program offerings
• Would like to attract and recruit additional qualified Board members
With the GGHCDC, I was able to help the Board understand their role as fundraisers – probably one of the harder conversations to have with your Board. I was also able to work with them to define their responsibilities and gain consensus on each fundraising activity they were responsible for along with a dollar amount. It was exciting to see the Board embrace their role as fundraisers even though I know it is not their favorite role on the Board.
Another reason to hold a retreat is to focus on the mission, vision and values statements. Often this happens when an organization wants to kick off strategic planning. It is an opportunity the organization to examine the core of who they are. I just did a vision statement activity with one of my clients, the Chula Vista Nature Center (CVNC).
The Board and staff brainstormed different vision statements using this template:
Five years from now, the Chula Vista Nature Center will ___________________ by ________________________.
The group brainstormed about 15 different statements, but they were all common enough to develop one vision statement.
The key to a great Board retreat is planning. Get together a committee or a small group to brainstorm the different issues that need to be addressed. Determine if these issues can be addressed by just the Board and staff or if a facilitator is needed. If a facilitator is needed, meet ahead of time to discuss the issues you would like the facilitator to help you address. Be honest about what is needed and the true organizational issues.
You do not want your retreat to be “kitschy” but you do want it to be fun. Engage your Board and staff with hands-on activities, team-building games, small-group discussions, and opportunities for exploration.
At the end of the day, the Board retreat is just one step towards the goal. The key is in the follow up from the Board meeting. Assign someone to be the secretary for the retreat to record the ideas and decisions made. Email these out to the Board and staff members along with deadlines and who is responsible to complete each task.
Good luck with your next Board retreat!