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Convening for Purpose

As Christa and I sat down to enjoy a bountiful breakfast while on retreat together earlier this week, she reminded me just how lucky we are to be doing purposeful work. There we were, drenched in the morning sun, looking out over snow-covered Fuller Lake at one of our new favorite planning spaces, The Olive Branch Retreat. Our purpose? To exchange ideas about our shared passions and vision for supporting nonprofit leaders during this period of profound transformation for our sector. retreat photo breakfastIndeed, there were many reasons to be grateful.

Of course we have some exciting news about where we’ve set our sights for Vela, but first, I want to share a few observations about what we have learned throughout the visioning process during the evolution of our own vision, and in the convening of leaders in our consulting practice.

In our experience, we’ve found that:

Visioning is a necessary process for an organization’s well being that connects and rejuvenates leaders, creates the opportunity for deeper discussions, and allows for the development of new and more meaningful relationships.

The greater the intention, the greater the results. The best opportunities for excavating shared concerns, hopes, and aspirations for your future happen outside of regular board meetings. Setting aside the time and space to convene for a higher purpose, without familiar distractions, holds greater promise for generative dialogue. maypole

A strong vision can serve as a Maypole around which boards, staff and volunteers can dance, to attract and retain financial support. Above all, a visioning process unites organizational leaders around a common purpose. This matters because donors and funders are sharply intuitive. Despite a well-rehearsed routine, they can often sense when an organization’s leaders are running in different directions. This misalignment can serve as a strong repellent that many organizations may not even know they are wearing.

Above all, remember that a true vision is bold and aspirational. It’s why you exist. And it should be something you are proud enough to shout from rooftops.

As for our vision? We can’t wait to share it. Stay tuned. 

Think Bigger,


P.S. Thanks to our client Bruce for the Maypole analogy we discussed over coffee last week, which inspired this post and reminded me that spring IS coming. Also, a special thanks to our clients Marla and Jessica at the Olive Branch for sharing your beautiful slice of the world with us.

Need a visioning or strategy session for your board? Drop me a line at [email protected] or 320-293-8388. 


photo credit: Maypole dancing, Basingstoke 1938 via photopin (license)

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