What do Grantmakers Mean When They Ask You to Describe “Program Sustainability After the Grant”?
Grantmakers and donors are asking you how you will keep your program running after their commitments and investments in your organization or program is over.
How do you answer these questions?
What are grantmakers really asking?
Well, across funders there is little consensus on the definition and conceptualization of sustainability. Some funders want to see other investors in your projects and programs including other grants, donations and program income. While other funders are more interested in your ability to communicate and demonstrate a lasting impact on an individual or community served by your project.
Funders want to know that:
1) your organization is sustainable,
2) your proposed project is sustainable, and
3) their investment will have a lasting impact.
Let’s dig down for more clarity and define sustainability.
Sustainability is defined as the continuation or maintenance of a set of activities and resources intended to achieve the original objectives of a program or initiative. Beyond the broad sense of the term, grantmakers use of ‘sustainability’ falls, primarily, into four major categories, each emphasizing a distinct focal point as being at the heart of the sustainability process:
(1) adherence to program principles and objectives,
(2) organizational integration,
(3) maintenance of program benefits, and
(4) community capacity building
There are three different components of sustainability, each operating at a different levels:
1) Individual, 2) Organizational, and 3) Community
When you develop your responses to the questions of sustainability consider demonstrating your approach to those three different components of sustainability.
Can you answer the following questions and have you clearly communicated your answers in your proposal?
1. How will your proposed project result in maintaining benefits for individuals after initial program funding ends, particularly continuing to achieve beneficial outcomes for new clients (Category 3: Maintenance of Benefits)?
2. How will you design your program infrastructure and resources to continue program activities within an organizational structure and ensuring that program goals, objectives, and approaches adapt to changing needs over time (Category 1: Adherence to Program Principles and Objectives and Category 2: Organizational Integration)?
3. How will your proposed project build the capacity of the community to develop and deliver program activities, particularly when the program worked via a community coalition or other community capacity-developing process (Category 4: Building Community Capacity)?
For more information on grantmaker expectations in addressing the questions about sustainability try these resources:
Literature Review on Defining Sustainability
Text Chat on The Future Funding Question on GrantSpace
Sustainability Plan from the Corporation for National & Community Service -Americorps Sustainability Plan
Thank you for visiting today! Get Funded, Do Good!