Sustainability is about being able to continue something for a long time without using or completely destroying your resources (2). And for you, non-environmental folk, don’t even start thinking this doesn’t apply to you!
Ability 2: Sustainability (Sus-tain-abil-i-ty)
The point of the four abilities is that funders and sponsors will either implicitly or explicitly ask this question, so don’t think, if there isn’t an explicitly direct question about sustainability that it won’t apply to you. There could be references to sustainability without actually using the word, or the word could be hidden in the 20+ pages of guidelines and grant program information.
Now, I want you to stop thinking that you can’t make a project sustainable – just because you can’t have a fee for service business model that helps you roll out program again next year, it doesn’t mean you can’t introduce sustainability throughout your program. In other words, ‘You don’t need cash to carry on the benefits!’ By that I mean you need to start asking yourself what you can do to continue to deliver on the benefits beyond the period of funding.
This is really important to funders and it demonstrates that you aren’t after a cash grab, that you really want the outcomes to continue and it also makes you think creatively about how to address this issue if you can’t make it pay. Hey, I know service delivery is service delivery and there’s no getting past the issue of needing a human to deliver that service which costs you money. Stop thinking about the resources and start thinking about how to make the outcomes sustainable.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
How will the project continue beyond the funding you are receiving?
How will the outcomes and outputs you have identified continue beyond the funding?
Will this project really benefit your organisation, is it going to help you become more sustainable? If not, it may sound like a ‘cash-grab’ so why are you doing it?
By addressing these points in the relevant questions throughout your application, you will demonstrate that your organisation and the project is a low risk and that you are the best organisation to partner with the funding body to achieve their/your goals.
Check out the other 3 abilities;
Part 1. Capability
Part 3. Viability
Part 4. Accountability
Natalie also writes, trains and mentors others and has a personal best with a 92% success rate due to her strategic analysis and approach to the world of funding applications.
Written by Natalie Bramble
*The Four Abilities is Trademarked by Natalie Bramble
As a speaker, trainer and community development consultant I assists non-profits and small businesses to establish better governance practices and operational procedures, identifying new revenue and leveraging existing opportunities, community engagement, brand management and stakeholder communications.