So, you’ve received a large grant (congratulations!) and are successfully implementing your project plan. But what happens to the project when the grant funding expires? This is an important question that smart organizations consider in the planning phase of a project. Funding sustainability is how your organization can keep your project active without the funder’s help. Here a few key things to consider as you develop a sustainability plan for your project.
What is your funder hoping to accomplish?
The first step to determining the best route to sustainability is to know your current funder’s goals. Are they funding a long-term solution like increased reading proficiency across the county, or are they funding a short-term project like irrigation ditch repair? If you are working on a long term initiative like decreasing homelessness then your sustainability plan is going to be more complex. You need to consider what parts of the project will continue in what format at the end of the funding stream. Knowing what you want to accomplish post-grant will help steer the plan.
What is your project scope?
If you are working on a long term project you will have to consider funding to continue providing services to a “new” population. With long term projects, more of your budget tends to be focused on personnel (continued services) than assets and one-time costs like equipment (maintenance) that make up more of a short term project’s budget. Once you know whether you need to fund continued services or maintenance costs, you’ll need to decide which aspects of your project are absolutely necessary to continue. Based on this, you’ll then determine which line items in your budget can be eliminated or reduced. This will give you a new total yearly budget for your project.
Where does the money come from after the funding period?
Now that you have your new yearly budget, you’ll need to find a new source for the funding. There are a variety of ways to find funding to continue your project. You can integrate all of the costs, or a portion of the costs, into your general operating budget. This is the most secure and soundest approach. And the approach that funder’s generally like best.
You can also allocate just a portion of the project budget into your general operating budget and then seek funding for the additional amount. However, it is important to be aware that you may not secure funding from another source. If you’re not able to operate the project without another funder you’ll need to go back to the drawing board with your sustainability plan.
Other options to continue funding your project after an initial grant are:
- New Funder – Can you approach another funder or donor to cover your ongoing project costs?
- Multiple Funders – Would two or more funders or donors work together to support the project?
- Fundraising – Can you increase your fundraising revenue to cover the project costs?
Third Party Agreements – Is there another organization that you can partner with to cover personnel, equipment, or contractual services?
Cash Match – Cash or in-kind matching requirements in a grant actually help with sustainability. If you have enough of a match you may be able to sustain the project just off of your match budget.
Planning for sustainability should be part of your initial project planning and funding processes. Knowing where the money will come from after a grant ends is essential to the ongoing viability of your project. If your organization could use assistance with your sustainability planning, please reach out to the Resource Associates experts. We can help you map out a long term financial and resource leveraged development strategy to sustain your services.