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Nonprofit University

Planning a Retreat Your Team Will Love

An annual retreat – for staff, board, or a particular team –  can be a great way to generate new ideas, deepen your team’s investment in success, and build bonds that help everyone work better together. Too often, however, retreats become groan-worthy ordeals: a series of hours-long conference-table meetings, heavy on flipcharts, icebreakers, and “big ideas,” and light on real meaning for both the team’s day-to-day and the greater strategic direction of your work. Becoming “all virtual, all the time” has only made this problem worse. 

Drawing on her organization's wealth of experience running innovative staff and board retreats, Lara Smith of Dad’s Garage will provide you with new tools and activities (for both in-person and online formats) to get the most out of these retreats. You will leave the session with a variety of fresh ideas and the confidence to host a stellar retreat – one that aligns your teams, recharges your people, and clarifies your impact.


  • Creating an agenda for a retreat: how to figure out the ideas you want to cover, and how to work them into your meetings.
  • Creating an operational plan, with a proven approach for generating fresh ideas to try out in the new year. 
  • Ensuring “big picture” conversations connect with the real work of the organization and result in action.
  • Team building without ropes courses or trust falls: ways to strengthen staff bonds that they won't roll their eyes at
  • Retreat logistics on a budget, for both in-person (lodging, food, materials, and equipment) and online (technology and platforms) formats.


At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Craft an agenda for an engaging retreat with clear expectations and anticipated results.
  • Give examples of creative logistical planning on a budget.
  • Recommend effective, meaningful team-building activities for in-person and online retreats.


Whether an all-staff, board, or department-level retreat, this course will be helpful to anyone who has retreat planning on the horizon:

  • Executive directors and CEOs
  • Board or committee chairs
  • COOs, operations directors, and program directors
  • Other department heads (for organizations with department-level retreats)


Lara Smith has been the Managing Director at Dad’s Garage since August 2012. She helped lead the organization through losing their home of 18 years, including securing temporary space and purchasing a long-term home through a nontraditional capital campaign. The new home, located in the Old Fourth Ward, opened to the general public in 2015. Lara is a graduate of the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2014 and received a scholarship from the Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta to attend an executive education course, Strategic Perspective in Nonprofit Management, at the Harvard Business School in 2014. Lara was named one of the 40 under 40 in the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2015, and was part of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Leadership Institute class of 2017. She was honored to serve on the Mayor's Advisory Council for Reopening the City during the COVID19 pandemic. 


  • April 29, 2021


1:00 pm - 4:30 pm EDT


Online Class
You will receive log-in information after registering for the course.

Registration Details

Member: $85
Nonmember: $110

Questions? Contact us at [email protected] or 678-916-3081.

April 29, 2021