Monday, July 4, 2011

How to Plan a Retreat: Locations and Budget Thoughts

This installation of the "How to Plan a Retreat" series takes a break from some of the step by step instructions. Today we're going to dive into some of the resources that go into planning a retreat. I know first hand that budgets for retreats are often slim.

When you look at it, there are three major ways that you might need to think about budgeting when you're planning or leading a retreat.

1. Fees covered by individual retreatents - as the leader, you're going to need to list out all of the expenses, and then divide by the number of people attending. That gives you your break even point. On the upside, this method allows you to hold your retreat wherever you'd like. On the downside, it requires that someone be a book keeper and help keep an eye on budget, and you'll need to prepare or plan meals and room and board for everyone.

2. Basic fees are set by a retreat center, your group has to cover for supplies - in this scenario, you're working with a retreat center (or a hotel) and they have a set rate for the nights you stay over, and the meals. Your team needs to assess costs for supplies, speakers, and books or materials to add on top of the basic fees.

3. All in one package - Your group is signing up at a luxe retreat center, and all you need to do is pay a flat fee and then attend in style. They may allow you to bring in a speaker and use their facilities, in that case you'd need to figure payment for your speaker and any supplies they might require.

San Damiano Retreat: Upper Fountain

So, friends, what are some of those expenses you might run in to? Let's look over a hopefully fairly full list:
- cost per room per night, considering both single and double occupancy. I encourage you to look to offer both. Some folks like to pay a little less and room with a friend.
- food and snacks - plan on meals to cover the time period you're there. And, you may want to inquire of your attendees if anyone has food limitations. This is a good thing to ask on a registration form. Don't forget a midnight snack if you're having a social event!
- drinks - including water, coffee, soda, possibly alcohol - for an evening social
- folder or binders with a schedule, information, etc
- notepads for journaling
- speakers' fees - it's a nice gesture to offer your main speaker a stipend
- speakers' room and board
- clergy room and board
- musician or music fees - for live or recorded music
- scholarships - some retreats offer a 'scholarship' for a set number of people who may not be able to afford their own way
- supplies for activities - these are all going to be fairly activity specific, and lists should be drawn up by your activity leaders. I actually recommend giving the leaders a set price point, so you can move forward with covering costs long before your fliers are printed
- worship supplies - candles, small items for services
- room and equipment rental - will you be using an additional room or meeting space not covered by your initial fees?

Once you've created your list, run it past your retreat team. It's always good to have another set of eyes to review the costs.

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