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Host a network-building retreat

A retreat will help introduce your stakeholders to one another and give them an opportunity to discuss goals, priorities, and next steps for your network. We have suggestions and ideas on how to run a successful retreat.

Before the retreat begins

Consider arriving to the venue early to prepare the meeting room and brief the core planning team and the facilitator on the day's activities and responsibilities.

Some ways to prepare for the meeting include:

  • Reviewing the agenda with your team
  • Preparing the meeting room and setting up the materials from the supply list
  • Assigning team members certain tasks to keep the day on track, such as timekeeping or notetaking

Retreat kickoff

Welcome remarks

At the start of the retreat, a member of the core planning team should:

  • Thank everyone for attending
  • Go over logistics (such as bathroom location)
  • Explain the purpose of the convening
  • Acknowledge any planning partners
  • Invite the welcome speaker to kick off the meeting

A speaker should then provide opening remarks.


Each stakeholder should briefly share:

  • Their name
  • Their position
  • Their organization
  • Their interest in being part of the network

Background information

The facilitator or another designated person should share a presentation that provides:

  • An overview of networks
  • A summary of CFPB research on networks
  • A description of promising practices related to combating elder financial exploitation
  • A list of local or regional success stories

We suggest taking a short break before moving into network building exercises.

During the break, consider projecting a PowerPoint slide with a guiding question that stakeholders are encouraged to discuss as they mingle. For example: "how can elder justice stakeholders collaborate to increase awareness and improve response to elder financial exploitation?"

Network-building group exercises

These group exercises will help your attendees engage with one another to explore network goals and opportunities, identify priorities, and create post-retreat action steps. Before conducting the exercises, your facilitator should:

  • Break attendees into groups of four to eight people, making sure that each group has a variety of stakeholder expertise
  • Ask each group to choose a notetaker and a spokesperson

Explore network goals and opportunities

This activity will help your stakeholders develop a sense of current successes, challenges, and opportunities for growth in addressing elder financial exploitation in your community.

Identify network priorities and next steps

This activity will help stakeholders determine network priorities and then rate the difficulty and importance of each priority. Attendees will then use the priorities and ratings to discuss next steps.

Other retreat activities

Consider additional team-building activities to make the most of stakeholders' time during the retreat.

Communal meal

If time and resources allow it, offer a brown-bag or sponsored lunch to break up the meeting while allowing stakeholders to build relationships.


You can offer a cross-training session as an optional activity following the morning retreat. This could include co-presentations from stakeholders to help attendees understand the capacity and challenges that certain organizations face when addressing elder financial exploitation.

Question and answer session

It's helpful to provide time and space for stakeholders to share any thoughts they had outside of the scope of retreat activities. At the end of the retreat, consider allowing stakeholders to participate in a question and answer session.

Retreat follow-up

Before the retreat ends your team should announce the date of the follow-up meeting, which should take place four to six weeks after the retreat.

Send a thank you email

A thank you email after the retreat encourages further engagement with the stakeholders who invested their time and expertise during the retreat. Use the contact information from the sign-in sheet to send out a thank you email that includes attendee contact information, the date and agenda of the follow-up meeting, and other resources to use in the future.

Develop a retreat readout

A readout summarizes the network priorities and next steps discussed at the retreat. Send the readout to retreat attendees and any other stakeholders with an interest in the network or elder financial exploitation. Make sure to send the readout to everyone no more than two weeks after the retreat.

Plan the follow-up meeting

After the retreat, you should meet with your core planning team to plan the follow-up meeting as well as the next six to 12 months of meetings to keep the momentum going. If you haven't already selected a network coordinator, discuss a potential candidate to approach, or appoint an interim from your team.