Understanding the importance of sustainability and preparing to carry a project forward are important factors that should be considered from the beginning of a project. The CDC defines sustainability as a community’s ongoing capacity and resolve to work together to establish, advance, and maintain effective strategies that continuously improve health and quality of life for all.
It’s important to note that sustaining a program does not necessarily mean that it will continue without change. Various factors, such as community needs and capacity can influence sustainability and how the work is carried forward.
An effective sustainability plan helps clarify and emphasize the importance of the program in the community and helps to inform decision-making about how the program will move forward after funding, which is often a key factor in a community’s ability to sustain a project.
A diversified funding approach is an important consideration, and can include grants, sponsorship’s, membership dues, and revenue from events, among other things. Some creativity and thinking outside the box may be in order when considering which funding options may be most beneficial and realistic.
In addition to funding, the CDC recommends the following sustainability strategies:
- Recruiting program champions and partners – It’s important to identify both existing and potential partners and determine how best to utilize these relationships. Considering non-traditional and new partnerships, as many Plan4Health coalitions have, is also encouraged.
- Making organizational or structural changes – Ensuring stakeholders have the necessary knowledge, skills and capacity to carry the work forward and that an effective implementation and management plan is in place.
- Engaging in communication efforts – Used effectively, communications efforts can have a positive impact on other sustainability strategies, such as raising awareness and gaining buy-in from partners.
Check out Planning for Sustainability for a more in-depth look at these strategies as well as real-world examples of this work in action:
Conducting a sustainability self-assessment of your work can help to identify gaps and strengths. The Center for Public Health Systems Science at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work has developed the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool to assist with rating the sustainability outlook of a program across a range of factors. This tool can help you better understand what may be influencing your capacity for sustainability, which can then help you address and plan to improve your chances for sustainability.
The above webinar, in addition to other sustainability resources, are available in the Plan4health resource library’s sustainability resource page.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.) Sustainability planning guide.
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