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Three Steps to a Fantastic Board Retreat

Resource Center - Foundation

amy eisenstein

Missed Amy Eisenstein’s recent webinar on Three Steps to a Fantastic Board Retreat? You can still order the archived webinar and learn from her vast knowledge and experience, and we’ve got Amy’s five questions with AFP below for even more insight.

Q.  What is the return on investment (ROI) for a Board retreat?

A.  In terms of concrete ROI, if one board member solicits (and receives) one new major gift for the organization as a result of the retreat, then the retreat pays for itself. Hopefully it’s not the only one. Ideally, several board members will be encouraged and inspired enough to help with fundraising moving forward in a variety of ways, including making thank-you calls and writing thank-you notes, personalizing appeal letters, bringing friends to volunteer and on tours, and so much more. These are all important aspects of engaging your board members in the fundraising process, which should be covered at almost any board retreat. Other benefits of a board retreat are renewed enthusiasm and commitment of board members, as well as a revised, stronger, and updated strategic plan.

Q.  How often should you have a board retreat?

A.  Board retreats should be held annually. Retreats are not simply longer board meetings, but should have an entirely different agenda. Board retreats should be focused on planning for the year, providing fundraising training, and renewing enthusiasm and engagement on the part of your board members.

Q.  What are budgeting factors you should consider for your board retreat?

A.  Whenever possible, your retreat should be held in a location outside your normal meeting setting. Try to find a peaceful venue away from your office, if possible, but a board member’s conference room will do in a pinch. You will want to provide at least two meals plus snacks, depending on the timing of your retreat. Finally, you will need to decide whether or not to hire an outside facilitator, which could add significantly to your expenses, but is often well worth the investment. 

Q.  What are the things you should cover in a board retreat?

A.  There are five items I cover in almost every board retreat, which I go over in great detail in the webinar. They are:

1) Introductions

2) Mission Moment

3) Strategic Planning

4) Fundraising Training

5) Next Steps

Q.  Where do you want to see board fundraising in five years?

A.  In five years, I’d like to see a greater percentage of board members engaged in the fundraising process. As professional fundraisers, I believe it’s our responsibility to take the fear out of fundraising for our board members and to help them by segmenting fundraising into manageable tasks and activities. This also includes helping board members understand the need for operating expenses and dispelling the myth that high operating costs equals poor management. Instead, I’d like to see organizations judged on their outcomes and impact, not on overhead costs.

If you’d like to know more about board retreats and getting your board enthused about fundraising you can still check out Amy’s webinar, Three Steps to a Fantastic Board Retreat

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