One of the most neglected aspects of any grant proposal — federal, state, or foundation — is the sustainability section.
Funders often ask how your organization plans to sustain its activities. They want to see you’ll survive after their investment period has ended, after you’ve cashed their check. They want to rest easy knowing your nonprofit won’t close its doors a few months after they send you grant money.
From a nonprofit’s perspective, the answer seems obvious: We’ll raise more money! Duh! But that’s not good enough. If you don’t pay close attention to this section and develop a good plan, it will be a major red flag against funding your proposal. Raising more money — rather through grants or individual donations or events — is a good starting point, but consider some other avenues, such as:
- Fees for service: How can you build revenue into the services you’re providing? Consider fees for services, or a sliding scale that takes into account the income of those you’re serving.
- Annual fund campaigns: This can be strengthened if you build a membership program that obtains recurring donations — however small — from loyal donors.
- Major gifts: Show you are building a pool of major gift donors that will help infuse significant cash into your budget.
- In-kind donations: List partnerships with companies and corporations that sponsor events and/or provide in-kind services.
In short, get creative with your fundraising strategies, diversify your approach (never, ever rely solely on grant writing) and be thorough when describing your sustainability efforts long-term. Taking the time to really flesh out this section will help put funders’ minds at ease, and they’ll be more likely to chip in with a grant.
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