Q. What is a board retreat? And, what would a typical agenda for one look like?

A. Well-organized board retreats are extremely valuable if not essential to nonprofit organizations. In general, they offer boards the opportunity to focus more in-depth on topics without the need to address monthly or quarterly business. It also provides an opportunity for members of the board and staff to bond with one another in a far more effective manner.

The pre-selected topics are geared to utilize the group dynamic. The designated facilitator leads the discussions and collective brainstorming with solution-generation as a primary goal. Establishing a plan of action for each topic – including who, what and when each next step will occur – should be the outcome of a successful retreat.

As to the agenda, this can only be determined by your organization. What are the pressing issues you are facing? Are you looking to orient and train new board members or are you considering how to celebrate your 50th anniversary as an organization? Both are viable topics, but as you can imagine, each agenda will look different. Both should include ice-breakers, full group and smaller group activities as well as social time to get to know each other – not to mention make the event more enjoyable so that a board will want to participate.

After the retreat is over, don’t forget to add the action items onto the calendar of future board meetings. Check in and see the success rate. What could have improved the situation? What would you do next time? Which actions items need additional information and which are no longer a priority? Tracking this data will provide you with valuable information for the next retreat.

Please let us know if Mersky, Jaffe & Associates can help you plan your next retreat.