Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Board Retreats – Part 3: An Sample Board Retreat from Soup to Nuts

This is the last in a three part series on Board retreats. In the last two posts I discussed the importance of planning, choosing a theme, goals and measure of success and provided a model for working with a facilitator. Each Board is unique and what works best for a Board retreat has to be customized. Today, especially for smaller organizations, the retreats are frequently shorter and they need to be focused to get the most out of them.

A Sample Board Retreat –from Planning to Closing
Background: This is an active Board with broad expertise. However, last year a well respected Executive Director left and there was an Interim Executive Director (ED) for nine months. The new ED does not yet have ties to the community so his ability to attract new Board members is not as robust as it is expected it will be in the future. The Board has lost four members in this time frame and they want to make a special effort to attract new members. It was decided to invite potential new members to a Board retreat as part of the recruitment plan.
Purpose and Goals: The purpose of the retreat is Board Development and Recruitment. It will be a successful retreat if 4 invitees join the Board and all Board members get involved in Board working committees to further the goal of the nonprofit.
Pre-planning: The committee includes the ED, the Board vice president who also chairs the governance committee, another Board member who is on the governance committee and the facilitator.
The committee wants to put its best foot forward for new members while still having the retreat be useful to existing members. The facilitator ensures that a variety of activities are used to keep the participants engaged in the retreat.
Advance work: Each Board member has been asked to bring potential new Board members to the retreat. A list of skills particularly desired has been provided – but invitations do not need to be limited to candidates with these skills. The retreat will be held at a nearby University alumni club.

The Retreat packets for the prospective members include a background brochure on the organization and a Board Application. Board members have been encouraged in advance to discuss why they like being on this Board and joining the board with new members during dinner. The group activity prior to dinner will stimulate the discussion.

Retreat Agenda

The Retreat will begin on Friday at 5 PM with wine and cheese and conclude at 9 PM.

During Reception:
•Welcome – Board President
•Highlights of Recent Accomplishments
-A short video used with funders and service club presentations, etc
Retreat Program
•Presentation of Board Role and Responsibilities with Q&A - Facilitator
•Group Activity – Facilitator
-The facilitator starts the ball rolling by throwing a squishy ball to an experienced Board member and asking him to describe his personal experience with the mission of the organization. She then throws the ball to the next person. Prospective members describe what they hope their involvement may be. (I’m always surprised at the interesting connections some prospective new people have with the organization.)
-The facilitator posts key phrases from each remark on a flip chart and summarizes the many ways people contribute to the mission through Board service. (The facilitator plays an important role in making sure everyone’s comments are appreciated.)
•Goals for Coming Year – ED
•Breakout Group Discussions – facilitated by retreat planning members
-How Board working committees can support the goals
•Boarding of Breakout Group Feedback - Facilitator
•Next Steps – Facilitator
-Assignments made to working committees
•Closing Remarks – Board President or Vice President
-Thank Yous and Encouragement for Next Steps
-Requests prospective members to fill out the Board application
•Retreat Feedback - Facilitator requests forms be completed

The Executive Director contacts each person that they would like to invite to be on the Board and offers to meet, give a tour, etc. Close the deal and follow by-laws for election to the Board.
Prepare a schedule of working committee reports for Board meetings.

The first two articles in this series:
Board Retreats - Part 1: Why Have One, Themes and Planning

Board Retreats - Part 2: Working with a Facilitator and a Planning Checklist

1 comment:

POLS 4710/5710 said...

This series is a tremendous service to nonprofits and consultants everywere, Marion. In the previous posts, you've challenged board to think differently about the purposes of retreats. The example you provide in this post expands our understanding in a highly tangible way. Thanks!