SIX Retreats

Our small, carefully curated, retreats help unpack some of the big strategic questions facing trusts and foundations all over the world. They provide the necessary space for deeper future facing work.

SIX retreats draw on the latest global thinking and practice and provide opportunities for peers to support each other. We invite a small group of leaders from across the world to step away from their day to day operations and interactions; think critically about topics beyond the buzzwords; connect with global peers (beyond their usual networks) on questions keeping them awake at night; and develop strong, lasting relationships.

Since 2016, we’ve hosted nine retreats in Canada, Australia and the US, and hosted one online. Read more about the retreats below.

We believe that philanthropy can play an important role in ambitious social change, necessary to help solve the complex challenges we face.
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Today’s challenges are growing in scale and complexity, so how can philanthropy better align its efforts to increase its impact?
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In the face of new and increasingly complex challenges and emergent trends, how can foundations become future-responsive rather than past-driven?
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Foundations all over the world are grappling with their role in the emerging field of data and artificial intelligence but despite the potential of using data for social good, philanthropy isn’t engaging in this field fast enough, and is well behind other sectors.  What does philanthropy need to build more capacity in this area?
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How can funders take, enable and manage risks to achieve greater systemic impact? Our first retreat in Australia brought funders together to explore this. 
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As businesses engage with more purpose-led activities, how can philanthropy understand its role and partner better with the private sector to maximise social impact?
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In an era where the legitimacy and authenticity of foundations is being questioned, how can we encourage the philanthropic sector to take more risks?
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Whether it’s political polarisation or widening inequality globally; society can feel more divided than ever. So, what is the role of philanthropy in helping bridge some of these divisions?
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What can funders do to strengthen democratic institutions and civil society to better prepare and respond to the challenges ahead?
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  • 2016
    Systems change

  • 2017
    Aligning for Impact

  • 2018
    Strategic foresight

  • 2018
    The role of data

  • 2018
    Risk and impact

  • 2019
    Private sector

  • 2019
    Risk and legitimacy

  • 2019
    Social cohestion

  • 2023
    Civic engagement

How it works

Each SIX retreat is unique. We design everything around the people who come and the challenges that they face. Whilst our model is constantly evolving, there are important elements that ground us in our work and ensure that all organisations have impactful experiences.

To learn more about how our retreats work, see below or download more details about our model:

1 Pre-Retreat: Laying the Groundwork

We put the groundwork in place months before the first invitations go out.

    • Contextualising and localising so we can work with core topics which are locally rooted and relevant to a place, and globally applicable.

    • Building relationships across the local ecosystem and ensuring that retreats are co-owned by a group of local organisations.

    • Building momentum by hosting online sessions before the retreat to start to explore the topics with potential participants.
    • Identifying the right participants so we have a diverse mix of global and local participants from across sectors and foundation types.

    • Making connections before arrival through online global dialogues.

    • Making sure people arrive informed about each other and the local context.

2 Retreat: Coming Together

Everything from the moment the participants arrive is intentional and designed to make their experience easy.

    • Inviting participants to step away from their everyday environment at a venue that is rooted in the local character and context, whether this be a ranch in rural Montana or a winery in Australia

    • Planning a diverse programme with time for collective learning, personal reflection and processing, as well as time for fun.

    • Creating a non hierarchical space where everyone’s view is valid and no one person is more expert than others.

    • Building trust intentionally with ground rules and pre-retreat activities.

3 Post-Retreat: Embedding Learning

This is the most important part as it is when funders start to embed their learning in their everyday work, and share their insights widely.

    • Making sure everyone stays connected and that relationships are sustained for several years after the retreat.

    • Integrating learning back into participating organisations by remaining available to support participants and developing tools and sharing resources that funders may find useful

    • Connecting to others in the SIX network and welcoming all retreat participants into a   global community of innovators

Hosting the first Australian retreat provided a deep engagement and understanding of international perspectives and practice. It was invaluable in allowing us to critically reflect and improve our own practice.”

– Stacey Thomas (previously CEO of Fay Fuller Foundation, now at Wyatt Trust)