RETREAT CENTERS, CAMPS & CONFERENCE CENTERS
While we work with any mission-driven organization, we have a special place in our hearts for retreat centers, camps and conference centers, as they have been pivotal and transformative places in our personal and professional lives.
We bring extensive industry-specific experience to your center – whether you need consulting, management for particular projects, or an Interim Director.
Camps, retreat and conference centers occupy a unique niche among nonprofit organizations. Like other nonprofits, they receive income from the generous support of donors and their core organizing principle is centered around making the world a better place.
However, unlike most nonprofits, a majority of their income is usually generated from users - those who pay to come to enjoy their facilities and attend programs. Additionally, retreat centers offer natural places apart for relaxation, inspiration and renewal, and thus manage not only an organization and a staff, but also buildings and land. Many sites have dozens of structures - buildings, pools, challenge courses - and often hundreds (if not thousands) of acres of forest, trails, streams, and/or lakes. Like businesses, retreat centers must deliver the best ‘product’ in the most efficient way to their paying customers, as there is plenty of competition.
Crucial to success is a healthy, integrative interplay of staffing, facility management, programming, finances, fund-raising, Board governance and marketing. Because of this, retreat centers are considered to be the most complex nonprofits to manage. We often refer to retreat centers as “quasi-business nonprofits”.
Having successfully run two retreat centers ourselves, we know the myriad of challenges involved in keeping one sustainable. Because we inherited two endangered centers, we had to balance invigorating all the facets of management in the perfect timing for each. Since succeeding in transforming both centers into thriving organizations, we have dedicated ourselves to helping other centers flourish in their crucial work.
We deeply believe that these intentional spaces and places apart are some of the most important and needed institutions today. We are continually inspired by the tremendous potential they hold for personal, societal and even global change.
If you are a center/camp struggling to survive, or just feel like it's time for some outside perspective or guidance, please contact us. We'd love to help you shine!
"We are so blessed to have had Marie and Andrew as our leaders. I'm a bit biased, but I truly believe they are the best directors in the country."
A Midwest retreat center engaged us at a crucial time in their life cycle. While the site had a number of strengths, they had issues with recent staff leadership, as well as a ambiguity about their financial picture. Their traditional user base was declining, and they needed input on how and where to seek future clients. In this context, we were hired to perform a comprehensive review of their operations.
Over several months, we thoroughly explored the varied aspects of their operations. We began by completing a strategic planning process with the Board. Simultaneously, we evaluated their staffing structure, with a keen eye toward the efficiency, efficacy, and configuration of the current staff. We then took a thorough look at their finances, evaluating areas where spending exceeded industry standards and offering suggestions on streamlining their operations. We also assessed their existing facilities, as well as those planned as part of a capital campaign. Finally, we evaluated their programming and marketing efforts.
We completed our time with a written comprehensive organizational assessment in each functional area, along with our recommendations. At a full-day retreat we presented this report to the Board, addressing their questions and concerns. The Board's actions on our recommendations resulted in a number of changes, including a decrease in expenses, a more efficient staff structure, and a clearer sense of direction for their physical facilities.