Sustainability planning: the missing link

Grant-funded initiatives rarely last forever. Sustaining programs is a challenge for even the most successful organizations. The big mystery is how to keep the momentum rolling after initial funding expires. And, what should sustainability look like? Does it mean continuing a program at 100% strength or can it be downsized to a point where existing funds and other sources of revenue can support it? Planning teams get so caught up with designing effective programs, they often overlook the sustainability issue. It’s not their fault. Tight grant deadlines don’t always afford people the luxury to forecast future revenues and demand for services. In the end, “we’ll apply for another grant” becomes the unwritten strategy.

So what are the keys to sustainability?

  1. Funding assessment. What funding do you currently have available that could be redirected to supporting your new program after other funding expires? Everything should be on the table—including scaling back an existing program if the new program proves more successful/effective.
  2. Blended funding. Don’t launch new programs with a single funding source. Ideally, use two or three funding streams. If/when one source drops off, the program won’t be as severely impacted. Also, providing matching funds makes for a stronger proposal.
  3. Scalability. Design your programs so they can be easily expanded and contracted based on available funding and demand.
  4. Income generation. Explore ways your program could generate revenue to offset some costs.
  5. New frontiers. Keep your eyes and ears open for new funding opportunities and new ways to partner with other organizations. Network. Network. Network!

Do you need a sustainability plan? Reach out to us. We’re ready to help.

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