" /> Focused Board | Sharpened Focus

You are probably here because you’re experiencing some form of “board pain.” Do any of these complaints sound familiar? We hear them often, from CEOs and board members alike:

  • They (board members) are not engaged
  • They don’t understand their legal duties
  • They aren’t clear about their roles and boundaries
  • They don’t monitor our policies and risk exposure very well
  • They aren’t sure what our priorities should be
  • They don’t really know our programs
  • They don’t help fundraise or with strategic planning
  • They are too busy with other things
  • They don't answer my emails
  • Their meeting attendance is inconsistent
  • They can’t be counted upon
  • They are passive
  • They micromanage


At Sharpened Focus, we created the Focused Board retreat to address these concerns and to demonstrably raise your board’s levels of engagement and effectiveness. We have conducted the retreat in many different ways, such as all day Saturday or over evenings during the week. We recommend that you allocate 4-8 hours for the event. Whatever the format, Focused Board brings your board into an environment that is highly interactive rather than lecture-focused. Board concepts are explained through creative visuals. The board is guided through dialogue about ways to activate the principles in your particular context. The goal is to produce boards that are engaged at just the right level; what we call "Goldilocks Boards" ("not too much, not too little, just right").

One of the most common questions we’re asked is, “How do we build our board?” Sometimes this is asked because people think that adding members will increase the board’s level of engagement. To answer the board building question, we do have a “matrix” for building a board, but wise board building involves a lot more than selecting people from different professions. We’ll lead you in thinking through the priorities for the board and the types of people that will best maximize your mission.

During Focused Board, we share the legal duties the board members have, build them as a team, discuss their roles and responsibilities, and help them to figure out how best to carry out their stewardship responsibility for the organization. We address the thorny issue of “fundtimidation,” which is our word for the fear that board members have about asking for money. We’ll show them how they can help the organization raise resources in ways that are joyful and motivating.

What else is covered during the retreat? We’ll place your organization in its nonprofit context. We’ll talk about why organizations must be both visionary and methodical. We’ll cover some very important functional matters, such as how to have effective and engaging board meetings that actually use time instead of waste it. We’ll orient you to what you should have in your bylaws, what committees best fit your situation, how you can most effectively realize your organization’s mission, and many other subjects. Depending upon the situation we may delve into such issues as branding/marketing and risk management.


The key to board change is to do more than just spend time together in "board training." After all, you could have a great experience and then walk away with no follow-through. This happens all the time in the consulting world. That’s why we believe that as a result of the retreat you should "Go APE" with Action Plans and Execution. In fact, during the last portion of the retreat we’ll determine your next steps. We’ll ask the board and the CEO to commit to follow-through and accountability.

Follow-through is more difficult to do without outside help. Your retreat is made active and effective when we engage with you in follow-on coaching for the CEO and the board chair. This coaching will be built into the Focused Board retreat proposal. In some cases, follow-up board events may be appropriate, but we’ll discuss that after the retreat.


The Focused Board retreat is an incredible value for your organization. The cost is very reasonable and can be defrayed in ways that protect your General Funds. To hear more about what Focused Board can do for you:

Many of the woes of leadership in the nonprofit world center around dysfunctional Boards. To improve Board function and effectiveness or to energize Board involvement, you simply must host Dr. Sid Webb for Focused Board! You'll discover it’s more than a training event to equip your Board in the vital roles of fiduciary responsibility, governance, and fundraising. You'll discover it’s the beginning of a relationship that will foster growth throughout your organization for years to come.
—TJ, Development Director, Florida

You did a great job with our Board via Skype. I love your humor, warmth and especially depth. We’re better because of the time you have spent with us. —RB, Board Chair, Illinois

Since my role has been made clearer for me, I am so appreciating the freedom to commit to what I need to do as Board Chair, without feeling guilty about what I decide to delegate. This result from your training is tremendous! —NM, Board Chair, Ohio

Thanks again for conducting a great retreat and honing in on the things we needed to hear and do as a board. Your perception skills and ability to find the right way to present what we needed to hear were very good for our board. I think we are off to a flying start. —JM, Board Member, Georgia

Thank you for the engaging and very helpful presentation! I was simultaneously challenged, encouraged, and given fresh vision for my own ministry with our elder board. -PH, Pastor, Illinois

The retreat surpassed my expectations! You are the perfect person for this Board and it was a great session. Thank you for a wonderful retreat and great content. —EH, Board Chair, Georgia