We all have those events that we’ve been unquestionably doing for years. Maybe it’s an annual gala, a 5k or a chili cook-off.

But when those events start to under-perform – like not reaping in enough dollars or goodwill to justify the time and effort needed to produce them – it’s probably time to let them go.

Here are five tips to make the most of this situation:

1. Notice the relief you experience simply by making the mental decision to let go of each event. Be prepared for new possibilities to open up, paradoxically, just as when you bless and release a potential major donor who isn’t a good fit. You may suddenly see many other ways to achieve even greater results with less work.

2. Analyze the components of the event to see which parts you could retain, such as the financial support of your long-time sponsors, the testimonial story from a parent or grateful patient, or the first-hand experience your golfers have with your student caddies. Decide how these elements could be blended into another program or event you are keeping, such as your Point of Entry mission tours or your Free One-Hour Ask Event.

Not sure if it’s time to “bless and release” a cherished special event? Ask yourself these 9 soul-searching questions >>

3. Consider converting this event into a “third-party” event. Could this event be handed off to a third-party? Find a great community group that will take over hosting and producing the entire event and just invite you to speak as part of the event program, where they will present you with the check for the net proceeds of the event!

4. If necessary, have a sentimental moment of silence for each event as you “bless and release” it. While it may have served you well up to now, the precious time spent on putting on that beautiful event can now be used for follow-up and cultivation of donors or potential donors who have attended your Point of Entry, Ask Event, or Free Feel-Good Cultivation Event and have given you their express permission to contact them.

5. Schedule time in your calendar to begin those donor cultivation efforts. Even the best intentions can go unfulfilled if you do not set time aside to make them a priority. Discarding an event that just isn’t working is great, but go one step further and replace it with something that does work!

In the long run, eliminating several events will free up the time and allow you to focus on growing a significant major gifts program, which is the missing steppingstone for most nonprofits that are serious about building sustainable funding.

How do you decide when to “bless and release” a special event? What’s your strategy? Let me know in the comments below!

Terry Axelrod

Terry Axelrod

Founder and CEO at Benevon
Terry Axelrod, founder and CEO of Benevon, has more than 30 years’ experience in the nonprofit field. She created the Benevon Model after serving as the first development director at a private inner-city school, where she designed and implemented the fundraising programs that yielded $7.2 million in two years and a significant endowment. Over the past 20 years, Benevon has trained more than 5,000 nonprofit teams to customize this systematic process for building sustainable funding.