Board members who play together stay together. That’s what Lewis Flax, founder of Lewis Flax Associates in Washington, D.C., told participants during a session at the Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference in National Harbor, Md.
Flax, who’s company focuses on building partnerships between nonprofits and corporations, said board retreats offer members strategy opportunities and they build critical camaraderie among leadership.
The experience is worth the effort because it provides board members the opportunity to determine priorities and focus and address key issues. Board members may also benefit from interaction with staff, strengthening board-staff relationships.
Board members should be involved in shaping the retreat agenda long before the event takes place. Advance preparation is key, he said, and interviews with board members in advance of the event will help clearly define the agenda, primary topics and consider potential problems beforehand. Advanced planning, he said, will make active involvement much more likely.
Before the retreat takes place, influential volunteer leaders should be sought from among the board members, and they should shape the agenda. They should be met with and given accountability for one goal or set of goals of the event. The board members should be interviewed to gain their feedback and insights on key issues and learn their priorities and desired outcomes. They then should be asked to draft the next steps to be taken and write down details in advance of the retreat.
Having board members involved in the planning is a great way to engage them in a positive manner and enhance their relationships while providing organization direction and addressing critical issues.