Trade associations and charities need retreats. What kind do you want? A successful one, of course. But what does that mean for your group? Nonprofit director retreats are quite different from company retreats.
Business office retreats typically strive for deepening comradery among those who work together daily for a business. From the intense fall-back-into-your-coworker’s-(hopefully)-supportive-arms to a family picnic, company retreats have different goals than nonprofit or trade association board events. Those are the ones we specialize in.
When, where, why to have them?
We just attended an association client’s retreat that was midyear. It was without an agenda which gave those present the opportunity to bring up a wide range of topics relating to how committee chair people felt the association activities were doing. Call it a self-report card. A couple of board members brought prepared reports, most delivered them vocally. This midyear approach works if there was a goal-setting meeting in January.
Name it and it’s been a nonprofit board’s venue for their retreat. I’ve been in windowless rooms around a large table with no escape except to a close by restroom and food was brought in. I’ve been to ones around a pool and in someone’s living room. More often, retreats are held in a group room at a restaurant or at a hotel central to everyone. The “where” is typically a decision made by budget. I suggest boards build a budget with their retreat expense in it … for a couple of reasons. Primarily, it forces the scheduling of it.
The why? Nonprofit boards, trade or charity, are made up of volunteers. Their service is in addition to their regular profession, their family and their church or health activity. Retreats force the group to refocus on the one to three-year goals of the association. If there is a crisis, the retreat will pull everyone into the boat and make sure they all are rowing in the same direction. At the very least, a board should do a SWOT analysis of themselves once a year.
Retreats are a fantastic time to have a board training session that includes both new and old directors. Every time we run one of these, the response is very positive. Even the seasoned board members appreciate the refresher.
It’s never too late to have your board retreat. Let us help plan and produce it.