Why our Women's Leadership Retreat Rocked

This past Sunday morning, I participated in something extraordinary. It was not a usual Sunday morning, where you might leisurely wake-up, enjoy the morning coffee and read the New York Times. Instead, I awoke at 7:00 am and quickly did last minute preparations to welcome 32 highly accomplished women. You see, I hosted at my own home a women’s division Board of Directors retreat, where we spent 7 hours fine tuning our executive skills, learning new ways of time management and organization, and exploring creative alternatives to raising money to help the needy.

We started the morning with a lavish buffet breakfast, lot’s of chit chat to catch up on events and travels during the summer, and then began our sessions with a few ice breakers.

On to business, where we listened to a professional speaker who had flow in from New York to discuss our first session on fundraising techniques “How to Deliver a Two Minute Elevator Speech.” The speaker was great. She called upon several board members to role play in front of the entire group. How can you get your message across in 2 minutes or less, which will spark the other person's interest? Fascinating role playing and listing to what works, and what doesn’t. In essence, you have very little time to hold the attention of someone you are trying to entice to give money to your organization. It is imperative that you have 2 – 4 different elevator speeches memorized so that you can draw upon the particular speech that is in order.

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Next were our agency overviews. How can you ask for money if you don’t understand the needs of all the agencies you represent? We spent many hours preparing a wonderful pocket size booklet that describes 18 agencies, the populations served and amount of funding requested and the amount allocated. The idea being to keep this handy booklet with you at all times, even during a quick cup of coffee with a potential new donor.

After lunch, “Empowering Yourself as a Leader and a Philanthropist” was conducted by truly amazing women who had flown in special from Baltimore for the mornings retreat. An extremely accomplished and successful business executive, entrepreneur and professional fund raiser, she inspired us through her own stories and experiences, as she has traveled all over the world raising much needed money for various philanthropic agencies.

What did I do other than cut bagels, platter lox and cream cheese and make the coffee… I Personally led a 30 minute discussion on Organization and Time Management. I pulled from my first hand experience.

At the end of the day, though we all gave up 7 hours of our precious Sunday, everyone collectively felt as though we learned a great deal, bonded with other board members and honed our skills.

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