How do we make our board retreat meaningful?

Robert Glavin

Robert Glavin

When board members go home from a successful retreat, they feel invigorated. Each person leaves with a personal plan of action that he
or she has chosen to help advance the mission.


A great retreat requires a considerable amount of preparation. We recommend that our clients start by identifying the two or three biggest issues facing the board. Then we make sure the retreat planning and structure promote healthy discussion and meaningful action. 


It’s also important for directors to have a good time. This is a rare opportunity to socialize together during a break from the pressing demands of their busy lives.


The atmosphere always needs to be positive. All ideas are welcome, everyone is encouraged to participate, and negativity is quashed.


It is our belief that a great retreat requires a professional facilitator—someone with expertise in group behavior and in nonprofit management and fundraising. Otherwise, there is likely to be tension as various leaders vie for control of the agenda, the discussion, and the outcome. When that happens, people go home feeling frustrated and disappointed.


A great retreat builds a surge of momentum that enables an organization to accomplish big things. It is critical to do it right.