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A dozen reasons to “retreat”

by The NonProfit Times - March 8, 2013

Retreats for board members usually sound great to everybody but the board members who have to go on retreat. They often retreat from them as fast as they can.

Dennis C. Miller, an expert on nonprofit board governance, leadership development and strategic planning in Denville, N.J., maintains that retreats are an excellent opportunity to envision the future, establish new goals and develop desired standards of performance.

For any of that to work, however, the key is preparation. Specifically, that means:

  • Solicit input from as many key internal and external stakeholders as possible;
  • In conjunction with the CEO, board chair and/or retreat committee, develop an agenda with two to three specific goals;
  • Consider requiring “homework” to be completed before the retreat;
  • Set approximate timelines for each topic to be covered and stick with them as often as possible;
  • Involve as many members from the senior executive team as practical;
  • Make sure everyone is called on to participate;
  • Select a comfortable place, preferably away from the site where the daily workings of the organization take place;
  • Allow ample breaks between key topics;
  • Build consensus on all key issues discussed and create key action steps.
  • Consider engaging an experienced facilitator or consultant;
  • Provide a retreat summary for all participants on key issues discussed, what consensus was developed and required action steps; and,
  • Perform a retreat customer satisfaction survey prior to leaving the room.


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