Board retreats can be powerful if they are well-planned, engage members, and set expectations for how and what the Board will do for the coming year. They can and should be transformational: we have seen board members walk into the room angry (literally) and leave energized.

Two weeks ago, Nonprofit SideKick was asked to jump in and assist with a board retreat at the last minute. The Board recognized the importance of coming together in person to connect with new board members, revisit their priorities, and develop an actionable plan for 2023 – even if their planned facilitator could not make it, they wanted to keep moving forward.

The board was diverse, with varied skill sets, backgrounds, and experience. Each member demonstrated a passion for the cause and a connection to its mission.

Okay, we have people who want to be at the table and want to engage. What should be the focus of the retreat?

Wendy started by evaluating the foundation and infrastructure of the organization. This is an essential first step, like a home inspection before buying a house. We wanted to know: Where are the cracks or issues? What is good (a new roof or water heater)? In nonprofit governance parlance, “Are you following your bylaws?” “How often do you meet with the Executive Director?” and “What are the fundraising expectations of THIS board?”

The answers to these questions allowed us to celebrate the best practices in place and identify areas of opportunity to tighten them up.

Then, Steph facilitated a discussion about collaborative leadership and how to build (and keep!) a strong relationship between the Executive Director and the Board. This conversation created a shared understanding and direction to deliver on their mission.

When we got to the part where they were asked to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (the good old SWOT analysis), the board identified where there is alignment and prioritization for a high positive impact on the organization and its mission. This process created some “aha” moments for some, clarifying how each of them can productively contribute to the mission and goals. Even those on the Board for years discovered new ways to connect, support and promote the organization.

The best part of our job is when we see board members connect their strengths and skills directly to the organization’s strategic goals. We watched board members reflect and identify their “Why” and how it contributes to the work and the mission. There was a renewed energy in the room, a connection to one another and the mission. We know that this Board will have higher engagement and commitment to their role and, in the end, higher satisfaction with the experience of being a board member.

We left the retreat grateful for the opportunity to work with them and for having the opportunity to help them create their path forward. This experience also demonstrates how we work together and compliment one another in the nonprofit leadership space.

This is our WHY!  We love connecting individuals to the “work” our communities need. Want to learn more about how we can help you create a highly-skilled board that leads with confidence and builds strong relationships with staff leaders? Then, contact us today! 

Need a little extra support? Join our growing Community of Nonprofit Leaders. 

~Steph and Wendy