The Grant’s Sustainability Component is the piece that helps your potential funder understand how you will continue the program beyond the initial funding source. It’s important to convince the reader that the program or set of structures will not end prematurely due to a lack of additional funds. Here are a few tips on how to communicate your sustainability fundamentals to your potential funder.
Include any and all past successes.
It is important to share past success stories, including programs that have been successful until their close, but even better, programs that are still in place and financially sustainable. Let your potential funder know you have the experience necessary to launch and maintain important initiatives. This can make the difference between getting funded or being rejected.
Provide data to illustrate productivity.
If you’re asking for funding for an ongoing program it is important to include data-based materials such as quarterly performance reports, profit and loss statements, budget sheets and any other relevant data. Monitoring whether the community has embraced a program and its efforts through feedback, can be used to show the importance of the program and it can also be used to show future support from the community. Support such as in-kind contributions of time, space and resources can go a long way in helping your program to get funded.
Anticipate and answer relevant questions.
If you had the opportunity to speak to your potential funder, what are some of the questions they might ask about your plans to sustain the program you’re asking them to fund. Obviously, no one wants to give money to a failing initiative or a program that’s unsustainable going forward. Here are some examples of questions you should answer when writing the sustainability component.
• Do we intend to continue this program long-term?
• Will the program need additional funding to continue?
• What are some additional sources of funding we can use to sustain this program?
• What are some earned income strategies for future funding?
• If you’re requesting a multi-year grant, how will you have a decreasing reliance on this grant’s support each year?
Include information on fees for service.
Programs can be partially funded to bring the cost of services down for your participants. This is a good way to subsidize your grant and sustain your offerings. If you decide to ask participants to pay fees, you should include the fee scale and a revenue plan in your proposal.
Include information on any sales of items or activities.
You may be able to set up an income generating entity such as a thrift store or a gift shop. You may be able to sell educational materials or tickets to an event over the internet. If this applies to your nonprofit, you should include a clear expense and revenue projection statement. Make sure to understand any legal ramifications of the selling of goods and/or services for nonprofits before you begin this type of activity. It is especially important to be clear on any tax laws that may apply.
A typical mistake that grant-seekers make in their proposals is not taking this component as seriously as they should and not fully understanding that grant funding does in fact come to an end. Showing your potential funder you have a strong understanding of sustainability can make all the difference between getting funded and having to continue looking for money to launch or continue your program.