Day of Clarity Retreat

This full-board training opportunity, adapted from the successful retreat model from the Nonprofit Center at La Salle University, is designed to help boards focus on developing effective strategic practices and outcomes as well as new skills to fulfill their organization’s mission and goals with confidence.

After the grantee team completes the seven Foundational Workshops, they will be provided an application for a matching grant to bring one of our faculty to lead a “Day of Clarity” retreat for the full board. If approved, each eligible organization will be required to provide $500 in matching dollars, preferably raised by the organization’s Board of Directors. All of the “Days of Clarity” will include some pre-planning time with the consultant, a full- day training, and a short follow-up report on the retreat’s key findings and suggested next steps.

Day of Clarity applications will be sent out via email to eligible organizations in mid March.  Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until December 31, 2020.  All Days of Clarity must be completed by May 2021.

Please click below to read a description of the different retreat offerings by our faculty members. We will provide contact information in the application. 

  • The "Original" Day of Clarity

    Facilitated by Laura Otten

    The “Day of Clarity” is divided into two integrated, supportive components:

    • “A Foundation in Best Practices for Today’s Nonprofit Boards”

    • “Bringing Best Practices to Life"  

    The first half of the day takes the board through an immersion into the “good, better, best” model of board governance, guiding them through the steps to becoming a high performing board and providing new insights to sharpen board effectiveness individually and as a whole. Among the essential topics covered are board, staff and volunteer roles; legal liability; financial management and control; policy-making; fundraising and resource development; strategic planning; key organizational phases and their impact on the board; board self-appraisal; and identification of the board’s development goals for the year.

    During the second half of the day, the board is led through a “clarity” discussion that enables them to use this new-found knowledge, insights and intention to recognize priority issues that need to be addressed to move forward — be it engaging in a meaningful strategic planning process, resolving a problem or confronting a challenge. This session, which includes brainstorming, is then transformed into a highly focused discussion, based on the understandings and accord that was reached in the first part of the retreat.With a clearer vision and consensus on priorities to address, the board is better equipped and engaged to continue planning and goal-setting to determine mission-guided organizational direction.

  • Nonprofit Lifecycles

    Facilitated by David Grant

    Organizations, just like human beings, go through stages of growth and development, with predictable challenges at each stage. Unlike humans, in the end, organizations can face decline and turn it around into a new era of growth and vitality. But to do so, they have to understand where they are in their own lifecycle, what aspects of their organization are developing faster, or slower than others, and what their staffs and boards need to do in order to reach – and maintain - maturity.

    This day will clarify the Nonprofit Lifecycles Theory, as presented by Susan Stevens in her seminal book Nonprofit Lifecycles, and will help you learn how to apply it to your organization in ways that constantly clarify your sense of purpose and your decisions about “what to do next.”  We will do a case study that clarifies the dimensions of lifecycles thinking, and then we will apply the lessons learned to your organization.

    By the end of the day, you will have a mental model for organizational development that you will likely refer to in all future board and staff meetings as you strive for mission-based impact.

  • Measuring What Matters

    Facilitated by David Grant

    In an age of metrics, nonprofit leaders are under pressure to “show me the numbers,” to demonstrate their effectiveness. Yet some of the aspects of performance and impact that matter most to us resist quantification, and sometimes, paradoxically, the pursuit of numbers actually diminishes the social profit we strive to achieve.

    This day will clarify your organization’s approach to assessment. Some of your efforts will always have to be for others, based on criteria and/or metrics they have identified. But much of assessment can be in our own hands: formative, in that it helps shape good work, as opposed to summative, which judges work at the end; and qualitative in addition to quantitative, in that it helps us define and achieve levels of excellence that need words rather than numbers to describe.

    By the end of the day, your organization will have the shared vocabulary and tools necessary to make assessment one of the strengths of your operations and organizational culture.


  • The Pillars of High Performance for Mission-Driven Organizations

    Facilitated by David Grant

    Over the past three years, 150+ leaders in the social sector have collaborated on the identification of best practices and the creation of practical tools to encourage high performance in organizations.  David Grant has been part of this group, called the Leap Ambassadors, and in this workshop, he will help board and staff members examine how they are doing in relation to the six pillars of The Performance Imperative for small nonprofits: leadership; management; program design; financial sustainability; learning culture; and assessment for ongoing improvement.

    By the end of the day, you will have a framework for self-assessment in relation to The Performance Imperative (PI) and a plan for what to do next.

  • Fundraising

    Facilitated by Allison Trimarco

    Promoting a nonprofit’s impact is a major role for every board member, and this often includes identifying and cultivating donors. Participating in fundraising often feels like a challenge, however, and can become a point of tension between board and staff. This Day of Clarity will help you to build better collaboration around fundraising, and give you the starting point for advancing your fundraising work as a team. 

    The session begins with an overview of fundamental fundraising concepts and current trends in philanthropy. Then we’ll discuss options for organizing board fundraising work, and build skills in cultivating and soliciting gifts both large and small.

    By the close of the session, your organization will have a clearer strategy for fund development, and board members will better understand how they can best support fundraising success. 

  • Strategic Refresh: Moving Your Board From Good to Great

    Facilitated by David Grant

    Strategic planning, as critical as it is, takes enormous resources of time, effort, and money.  Sometimes what is needed is a strategic “refresh,” that focuses on the most important effect of good planning, which is strategic thinking.

    This day will clarify what aspects of organizational practice and performance need strategic thinking.  Is there a clear, shared sense of mission?  Are you set up to succeed in pursuing that mission?  Are you spending time together in the most effective ways?  Are there new strategic alliances or partnerships that would advance your work?  Are there changes in the world around you that have implications for your mission, or the way you go about bringing it to life?

    To maximize the effectiveness of this day of clarity, there will be a series of phone interviews with board and staff members before gathering in person, in order to prioritize key questions and jump-start discussions.

  • Day of Focus on Strategic Direction

    Facilitated by Allison Trimarco

    Organizations typically engage in an intensive strategic planning process every three to five years. But successful nonprofits regularly engage in strategic thinking - stepping back from day to day issues and considering bigger questions of how to achieve your mission sustainably and successfully. 

    This session will provide a day of strategic thinking, regardless of where you are in your strategic planning cycle. Do you have a recently completed plan and need to think about how to make the most of it? Are you mid-way through a plan's implementation period, and need to assess how things are progressing and make changes to stay on track? Or are you without a current plan right now, and need to consider how to you will tackle the strategic questions facing your nonprofit? This day can be semi-customized to acknowledge where your organization is in its planning cycle, and provides an opportunity for the board to use their best thinking to promote the nonprofit's success.

    To maximize the effectiveness of the session, there will be a conference call with board and staff leaders prior to gathering in person to prioritize key questions and jump-start the discussion.