April 30, 2024

Board Retreat Activities: 5 Practical Tips for Genius Events

You’re planning a nonprofit board retreat. What do you need to do to create a successful and effective board retreat? In this three-minute video, Karen Eber Davis shares five tips to help you craft your next genius board retreat.


00:00 Effective nonprofit board retreats

00:08 Never let this happen at your board retreats

00:30 Make your board members look good

00:47 The framework of Genius Board Retreats

01:06 The must-include activity in your board retreats

01:43 Variety is the spice of life in genius board retreats

02:28 Guide your board to fulfill their potential

Beyond the Video

Board Retreat Activities: 5 Practical Tips for Genius Events  Examples

  1. Engage Your Board: Mix up the activities. Avoid repetitive tasks like SWOT analysis every year. For instance, frame your retreat around these three discussions around these questions: 1. What is going well? 2. What would make it better? 3. How do we get there? This approach builds on successes and strengths and drives toward action.
  2. Respect Your Members: Choose meaningful icebreakers. No trust falls or blindfolds. Here’s one from The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Ask board members to share where they grew up. How many kids were in their family? The most challenging thing about their childhood. What the last place they lived was before now?
  3. Set Clear Goals: Outline specific objectives and achievements for the retreat. Read Dynamic Board Retreats: 3 Questions CEOs Ask to Build Them for details on how to set board retreat objectives.
  4. Educate Tactfully: Use the retreat to enlighten board members on their roles without lecturing. For instance, you might use What Your Board Needs to Know about Individual Donors in a question-and-answer format.
  5. Encourage Variety: Break the usual meeting format. Facilitate small group discussions. Do a quick “go round” on a new topic, first reactions, and a second, collecting questions. Ask people to rank their enthusiasm for a proposal on a one to five scale, with five equating to “full support” and one “gag-and-drag-me.” Your options are vast.

More Resources to Get Answers. Generate Revenue. Grow Mission.

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Credit: Video by Alex Green from Pexels

Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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