What approaches and techniques can you use today to ensure sustainability?
Agencies that rely on grant funding are concerned about sustaining the services they offer and finding resources and revenue to continue long-term success. Building this foundation of stability is essential in order for the agency to become a permanent community resource. Developing a clear, solid sustainability plan will help ensure your program will remain strong even after grant funding has ended.
Before moving onto the sustainability strategies, take a few minutes to answer the questions that best pertain to your role.
If you are a senior administrator:
What system changes are needed and must be achieved through this program? What parts of the program would you like to continue after this grant ends? What agency would run the program? How could they afford to do that?
If you are a mid-level administrator or manager:
Do your partnership meetings address the issues of systems change – of permanent ways to help reduce adolescent pregnancy or effectively care for pregnant and parenting teens? Are you looking for changes in job descriptions, training programs, standard operating procedures, employee handbooks, all the places an agency could most easily change itself?
If you are a direct service provider:
How do you let your supervisor know what is really working with teens and what is not? If you had the power to choose, what parts of the program would you want to institutionalize?
Listed below are a number of approaches and techniques that your agency and/or collaboration can use to build in sustainability for your program.1
- Assess Funding Gaps
- Determine the amount of funds that are needed to support the program and any new programs. Establish a total cost that is needed to continue.
- Identify your current resources and the amount of funds your agency receives.
- Identify other potential donors and funding sources you might engage.
- Develop a plan for approaching and engaging new funding sources.
- Build key relationships in the community and with schools
- Build personal relationships with schools and multiple staff at the schools. Solicit ideas. Programs should demonstrate a genuine interest in the school, staff, and students and become a valued part of that community.
- Offer trainings to teachers and others related to the program. They can help lead the intervention even if your funding source ends.
- Reach out to multiple agencies in the community to work with. Find organizations that have “staying power” and have been around for a while, such as universities, hospitals, or other established agencies.
- Engage community leaders as advocates for your program.
- Embrace and build upon existing programs. Once one funding source ends, programs have a better chance of maintaining if working directly with other organizations and are filling a need.
- Program staff should be involved in community events and partner activities.
- Diversify funds
- Identify strategies for fund raising.
- Work with funding sources at all levels (school, local, counties, state, and national).
- Be flexible to meet the needs of the funding source.
- Engage other local organizations in your work to help create long lasting partnerships.
- Develop a list of donors that already support your program (individuals, corporations, foundations).
- Develop effective marketing strategies
- Develop a marketing plan for continued impact to strengthen and extend your program.
- Use your results and outcome data to showcase the success of your program.
- Communicate your goals and objectives clearly to others. Effective and clear communication is crucial. Use advertising, brochures, newsletters, and websites to get your message out and to access as many people as possible.
- Create marketing materials that target different audiences. Provide materials that are easily reproduced.
- Keep your program active and interest high by sending out information about your program regularly to key stakeholders. Highlight significant accomplishments and positive results the program has achieved.
- Ensure program stays visible in your community by keeping your program information up to date and ensuring that it is included in local community resource guides.
- Engage the local media regarding the issues and the services you offer. Write articles and press releases.
- Develop a written statement about why potential funders should support your program.
- Assess your assets to determine resources you can use toward marketing efforts, such as renting a room or space to other groups, using your parking lot for a fund-raising activity, asking board members to promote your agency with businesses that could help your agency.
- Create a visual identity for your agency.
- Document program development and implementation to assist with future replication efforts.
- Use meetings to engage stakeholders, partners, and funders in continued involvement.
- Celebrate your successes and share credit with all supporters.
- Continue to monitor program goals and objectives to determine if they are still appropriate or if they need to change or expand to meet new priorities.
What kind of community effort do you want to cement into place by the time this grant is over?
- The best way to sustain the efforts to reduce teen pregnancy or provide care to pregnant and parenting teens is to change the way individual agencies work with teens.
- If your collaboration has helped each member agency become interdependent - become a better part of the system that works with teens, then your collaboration is a success!
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