Sustainability, a word frequently used across several disciplines, has become part of our everyday lexis. Origin of the word Sustain dates back several centuries, from two latin words sus which means- up and tenere meaning to hold. The current use of the word implies something that continues for a long time.
Steps to sustainability
Before you start writing the sustainability plan, discuss with your project team about the various processes and mechanisms that can be utilized for ensuring sustainability. Along with discussions with your colleagues you should consider the following:
- Long term vision: You should know where you see your organization after a period of 5 or 10 years. If you have thoroughly thought of how and what will you do in the long run, half your work is done. Once you know the long term vision of your NGO, you can easily draft the various things required to achieve it. With the use of data and facts, you can explain to the donor about your long term goal and the processes, resources required to ensure success.
- Integrate sustainability in all your projects: It is always advisable to integrate sustainability aspects in your project right from the beginning. This would help you to develop partnerships and relations with relevant stakeholders at an early stage of project development. This would also ensure that once the primary funding terminates you have a strong support to continue your project.
- Communication and Outreach: Develop a strong communication strategy so that your project results can be shared with a large audience. Well documented project results can help you in getting support from a range of stakeholders and donors. A well thought communication strategy can avoid last minute rush of donor search.
- Involve key stakeholders: Another major step to ensure sustainability is the involvement and participation of key stakeholders in program development. As part of the project activities you can initiate multi-stakeholder dialogue workshops to involve relevant people in your project.
- Diversify funding sources: The most important aspect of sustainability is to diversify your donor base and to develop long term partnerships with donors to support you in your endeavor. Do not just look at the traditional donor agencies but explore new opportunities as well.
- Create inventory of resources: Create an inventory of all physical resources that your organization can keep after a project ends. Some devices and equipments purchased during a project can be used in future eg. Training modules, camera, recorder, furniture for a school etc. can be used even after the grant expires.
- Use your donor database: You can enlist a few donors from your donor database who are likely to fund your project. Keep in touch with such agencies so that they are aware about your project.