Don’t stress about your upcoming Board Retreat. These 7 tips will help you prepare and create an enjoyable and valuable retreat for everyone involved.
- Gather input before the retreat. You can do this through surveys, stakeholder meetings, staff meetings, focus groups, and one-to-one interviews.
- Before the retreat, gather data on community needs. Consider whether you can collect data from various sources to assemble the data you need. Has a needs assessment been published related to your cause area? If not, can your organization or one of your partners perform a community needs assessment?
- Conduct an organizational assessment before the retreat. A consultant can be hired, or a local university or community foundation may be willing to provide the expertise in-kind. Have a third party with experience review your assessment and provide their analysis.
- Arrange for the Board to engage in thought-provoking activities before the retreat, especially activities that help them think about the organization’s future and about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. They should arrive at the retreat with an open mind that has been primed for discussion. The activity should be designed to help them begin forming ideas without becoming too rigid in their thinking.
- The strategic plan is built upon the Board’s shared vision for the future. Thus, the shared vision should be based on values and guiding principles the Board has approved. In addition, the shared vision should be consistent with the mission and vision statements that have been Board approved. If it is inconsistent or misaligned, consider whether it would be appropriate to revise the statements.
- Action steps can be defined by the responsible person and their supporting team after the retreat. For example, a goal may be assigned to a committee chair, and the chairperson can gather their committee members to fill out the action steps and submit the action plan to the Board.
- A skilled facilitator can help immensely by ensuring (a) everyone participates and adds to the discussion, (b) all input is treated with value, (c) the Board reaches consensus, (d) the shared vision is consistent with the mission, vision, and values statements (or that these are revised, if appropriate), (e) the vision for what the organization will look like in three years is feasible, (f) goals are right-sized for the capacity of the organization, (g) goals are likely achievable using the strategies selected, (h) the Board had identified how progress will be measured, and (I) the Board has defined how it will hold itself and others accountable.