6 Fun Icebreakers for Nonprofit Training Sessions | Beth's Blog

6 Fun Icebreakers for Nonprofit Training Sessions

Instructional Design


Note From Beth: Having good openers (and closers) are essential to the success of your training workshop.   I always incorporate an icebreaker, a short exercise that lets people introduce themselves and tap into existing knowledge.   I have a repertoire of icebreakers and always like to discover new ones.    I noticed that Jen Bokoff from the Foundation Center was re-tweeted a photo of an icebreaker she used at her conference session on facilitation techniques.    She kindly offered to cross post her blog post about icebreakers here.

Icebreakers Can Be Fun!  Guest Post by Jen Bokoff

Last week, Janice from Exponent Philanthropy and I led a conference session called Facilitation: Tools of the Trade. Before we shared our top 13 tips for effective meetings, we had the 100 attendees do some icebreakers in small groups to get to know each other and to prove that the beginnings of meetings don’t have to be boring or the same every time. Here are the ones we featured:

It’s (not) only a napkin:

  • Share your name.
  • Show an alternative use of the napkin by tearing or folding.

Materials: paper napkin for everyone
Feedback: Really encourages thinking outside the box  and being creative. We saw a bunny and a boat as two favorites.

Selfie time:

  • Share your name.
  • Share what social media networks you use.
  • Take a group selfie.
  • Post to the Internet loud and proud!

Materials: at least one smart phone

Feedback: Very interesting, especially in a generationally mixed room. Also, fun results!

And one more.

Pet peeves:

  • Share your name.
  • Share something that is a huge pet peeve for you, about meetings or otherwise.

Materials: none
Feedback: Mixed. Didn’t like negative framework, but also were able to bond over common ones, like conference nametags that hang too low!

Dance your name:

  • Stand together in a circle.
  • Share your name.
  • Share a dance move to go with your name.
  • Everybody together repeat the name and the dance move.
  • At the end, go around and do them all together again.

Materials: noneFeedback: So much fun! Renee captured some of the letting loose on Twitter:

Standard intros:

  • Say your name.
  • Share where you’re from.
  • Share your role at your organization.
  • Share why you’re here.

Materials: none
Feedback: Great. Easy way to get context.

and, because you’re reading this post, here’s a bonus one that we left out.


  • Share your name.
  • Share a skill you have that you’re proud of.
  • Share a superpower you wish you had.

Materials: none
Even at the most standard of board meetings, a little connection at the beginning can go a long way, and going outside the comfort zone can lead to some good laughs and even better conversation. Can you commit to spicing up your meetings and improving connection with a good icebreaker?

And, if you have other good ones to share, please leave them in the comments!

Jen Bokoff is the Director of Grant Craft at the Foundation Center.

4 Responses

  1. Cynthia C says:

    These are great for any group! One of my favorite memories from a college retreat used an old billboard ad torn into several pieces and we had to work together to complete it.

  2. Jen says:

    Cynthia, that’s a great one! Love it!

  3. Frank Kenny says:

    Really like the selfie idea. I am going to do that. Not only does it break the ice, it helps the event organizer to get some publicity.


  4. Meg Rulli says:

    The group selfie ice breaker is a fabulous idea – especially for a social media related training!