One question every nonprofit is familiar with: "How is your organization going to sustain?”
The term SUSTAINABILITY generally means finding a way to utilize resources so that it prevents the depletion of a program or organization. For the statewide or local nonprofits, the phrase "sustainability” is commonly used to describe how an organization will sustain itself over the long term, perpetuating its ability to fulfill its mission.
Sustainability in the nonprofit context includes the concepts of financial sustainability, as well as leadership succession planning, adaptability, and strategic planning. Often funders will request for a sustainability plan specifically regarding programming they are currently funding. However, it’s really about being more mindful of the Mission. Given the national landscape, state landscape and local landscape, many of our nonprofits are extremely concerned about their organization’s survival, keeping programming going and maintaining its quality!
The reality is that with fewer resources, services must shrink for each individual organization. However, through creative partnership, true collaboration and strategic alignment, some of our critical services can continue through collaborative work and cost sharing. We often tend to shy away from partnerships and collaboration when resources become scarce but that is the time it is most needed. Collaboration provides several core support mechanisms that can help ensure an organization remains sustainable.
As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers. A chorus of voices that are advocating for the same goal will have far more impact than any single organization alone could.
By drawing upon each partner organization’s skills and resources, collaboration avoids duplication and allows organizations to do what they do best in support of a common agenda.
Collaboration increases the potential for sustainability because each partner organization comes with its own constituency and contacts that provide a range of support that can benefit the social sector including potential funding sources. In addition, collaboration can tip the scales in favor of funding from grant makers such as foundations and state agencies that have begun to show greater interest in these types of partnerships.
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Remember, one sheet of paper tears easily. 30 sheets of paper are much harder to tear. Collaboration braids a stronger
community; one where the work is more sustainable.
Director, Sussex County Health Coalition