How does your organization recharge?

Last week we were very fortunate to be able to bring together our whole staff for a retreat in one of our home cities: Portland, OR.

Almost the whole team.

Before the retreat, we laid out seven goals. They included: Break out of our normal day-to-day work and recharge; challenge ourselves to think in new ways and learn new things; celebrate our successes; reflect on the past four months; look ahead at the next four; go in-depth on topics and projects that have organization-wide significance; be together and have fun!

    A typical day in Portland: our site developers look at a list of upcoming projects in order to prioritize them.


    On the final morning of the retreat, we got out of the office and into the fresh air. (Pictured: Mike, Craig, Josh, Minnie, and Enzo.)

We surveyed the whole staff ahead of time to get input on the agenda and goals. People from every team led sessions on everything from knowledge sharing to agile software development to volunteer recruitment and appreciation.

Amy, facilitator extraordinaire, helped us develop ground rules for the whole retreat; Josh's wiki-like brain was put to the test during a trivia game.

Other highlights included visits from Holly Ross of NTEN and Suzanne Bader of Mosaic Consulting. Thank you both for your time and wisdom – you definitely helped us with the second goal, “challenge ourselves to think in new ways and learn new things”!

During a break, Diana even found time to teach her fellow Community Moderator, Kim, to ride a bike. Talk about being together and having fun:

Go Kim go!

Now that the retreat is over, we have a ton of planning and work to do – and that includes reflection about how to make future in-person gatherings even more effective.

What does your organization do to reconnect? If you organize staff retreats, I’d love to hear…

  • Is the emphasis on big visioning, nitty-gritty work and decisions, or something else?
  • Does your staff facilitate it, or do you rely on others to help lead your reflection and planning?
  • What other things do you take into account?

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Comments (4)

  1. Connie Marianacci writes:
    October 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Hi! This give me great initiative to start thinking what we should do. Our organization is VERY small and many times we loose energy…. Personally, I recharge them when I meet with the children we are helping… so we do that often.

    I am going to look into doing an activity,


  2. Adam writes:
    October 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    BOURGETASTIC. Thanks for showing us broke job seekers and poorly funded non profits how awesome your time was, idealists, whose organization is funded by donations. Hope you all didn’t stoop to eating non-organic food. Way to strengthen your brand. Hi Diana!

  3. John writes:
    October 23, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Wow Adam, hate much? Maybe your broke and unemployed because you’re a jerk and people don’t like you.

  4. Proper NPO Governance writes:
    October 28, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Adam has a point; hopefully Action Without Borders has proper financial governance procedures for expenditures such as retreats (i.e., consultants’ fees, lodging, travel, food, etc.). The post also could have done without shilling for NTEN and Mosaic; us nonprofit folks get enough spam from consultants selling their services under the guise of “helping” our sector. Friendly reminder: You can read up on Action Without Borders and other nonprofits on (interesting to see their revenue, expenses, losses, Executive Directors’ salaries, etc.).

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