The Yearly Activity Review: How to Sacrifice Your Sacred Cows and Thrive

One of the trickiest activities nonprofit undertake is closing out existing activities. We hope things will get better. We shut our eyes and wish. Sometimes even to suggest a tweak to a declining program is treason. After all, it is easier, more fun, and exciting to add activities. Lots of adding means that most nonprofit do too much. To become the United States, the colonist gave up the monarchy. To grow, we sacrifice the finished.

Why Sacrificing Sacred Cows is Necessary
Favorites age. We outgrow them. And, they bore. A donor whisper, “Been there, done that.”
Once stellar, but now shrinking activities, drain. They limit forward leaps. An Ohio nonprofit looks the other way as their cash cow shrivels. They keep avoiding reality until the organization folds. Being willing to sacrifice a sacred cow is an act of faith. Examine your cows. End them, if necessary. You’ll gain fuel for your vision.
Sacred Cow Slaughter Recommendations
  1. Establish criteria. What must your activities do? What do you want them to do?
  2. Each year, review every activity including programs, activities, fundraisers, etc. against the criteria. Firecracker! Make it your organization annual July 4th Freedom Ritual.
  3. Create an advisory group filled with creative, outside-the-box thinkers. Assign them the mediocre performers. How might the activity be tweaked or changed? Should it be closed?
  4. Generate a closure experience that honors the effort. (Adapt Marie Kondo’s thinking about thanking objects before discarding.)
Benefits of Sacred Cow Sacrifices
  • Greater focus on top performers.
  • Opportunities to pilot solutions for withering cows. (Click here for my article about the dangers of downward spirals.)
  • More accountability and innovation. People who love a sacred cow will tweak it beat the criteria.
  • Bottom line growth including more community, money, and mission.

Email me for a consultation to establish your Yearly Activity Review. I’ll share an example criteria list and help you to use it.