Summer Strategy Retreat Recap

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OUT for Sustainability’s Board of Directors meet face to face twice a year, filling in by phone through the months between. This year’s 2015 summer retreat took place in an adorable, simple A-frame cabin in the Cascade Mountains near Seattle. The focus was on launching a comprehensive Theory of Change initiative, along with a check-in on the financial, operational, programmatic and cultural health of the organization. Our retreat also featured our favorite Board tradition, cooking delicious (mostly vegan) meals for each other. We also made candles, but that’s a story for another day.

Theory of Change

A Theory of Change is a specific and measurable description of a social change initiative that forms the basis for strategic planning, on-going decision-making and evaluation. Essentially, a more sophisticated and detailed mission statement. While this process will take the next six months to develop, we are set to finalize its implementation at the winter board retreat in 2016. We made wonderful progress with an almost surprising amount of agreement on both our ideal long term outcomes and the short term goals needed to achieve them. Here are a few examples:

Long Term Outcomes

  • Environmental diversity more closely aligned with human diversity and celebrated as key value to society
  • Empowerment of all communities to engage in environmental advocacy as invested stakeholders
  • LGBTQ rights become a metric in sustainability
  • Reduce LGBTQ vulnerability to Climate Change
  • Various LGBTQ communities are now more “green”
  • Sustainability becomes sexy, fun and cool
  • LGBTQ events leading work in global benchmarking standards for environmental impact
  • LGBTQ community members as leaders in high impact environmental organizations
    Clear, strong identity of global solidarity and responsibility for all, by all LGBTQ people

Short Term Goals

  • Create a board and volunteer outreach plan that more robustly represents the communities we wish to serve
  • Plan and host the next Fab Planet Summit in 2016 in San Francisco
  • Engage with volunteers to facilitate Earth Gays globally
  • Build a membership model, including the software and systems to manage it

Role Definition

An overall goal we explored this retreat was to more clearly define the roles within this volunteer-run organization, enabling those interested to understand the responsibilities and opportunities, as well as feel welcomed and supported. We clarified different levels of participation, and will be working on the MANAGE committee to create role descriptions to share publically in the near future. Roles include Board Member, Board Officer (ex: Treasurer), Committee Chair and Co-chair, Committee Member, Volunteer Coordinator, Regional Coordinator (a point of contact for local action such as Earth Gay service projects), Content Contributors and event volunteers and attendees. If you’re interested in learning more about any of these, please get in touch via our interest form at

Next Steps

A successful retreat also sets up Next Steps. The Board spent two hours beside Snoqualmie Falls to detail actions for each board member and committee. Noteable among our goals is that every committee of the organization will create a charter to outline our shared agreements, goals and process to achieve their purpose. Committees include:

  • MANAGE: Finance and operations including policy and compliance
  • ADVANCE: Relationships and fundraising including strategic partnerships
  • COMMUNICATE: Awareness and content including social media and website
  • SERVE: Local action and interaction including Earth Gay and Regional Groups
  • ADVOCATE: National and international education including the Fab Planet Summit

Thank you for reading. If you’ve made it this far, you’re likely very interested in what we do and we’d love to connect with you. Feel free to contact any of us on the board, or write to and we can direct you to the appropriate member. If you’re inspired, consider making a tax deductible donation to OUT for Sustainability, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Much love,
Board of Directors
OUT for Sustainability

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