Thursday, October 28, 2010

Checklist for sustainability

by Sally J. Patterson

Funders always want to see evidence of long-term viability from their grantees. But now, with funds tighter and needs greater than ever, demonstrating sustainability is critical. Use Sally J. Patterson's 21-question checklist to see how your organization measures up.

Clear vision

Does the organization have a clear mission, guided by a clear set of values and embraced by all?
Does the organization have a shared vision of where it is headed set down in a strategic plan?
Does the organization have a clear sense of what differentiates it from others that provide similar programs and services?

Strong leadership

Is the board fully engaged and supportive of the organization?
Is the board representative of all stakeholders served by the organization?
Does the organization have a strong executive director and senior leadership team?
Do members of the leadership team embrace the same principles for managing the current economic situation?

Solid financial footing

Does the organization have diverse funding sources?
Is the organization not overly dependent on a single funding source?
Has the organization explored alternative funding sources?
Does the organization have good relationships with its funders based on mutual respect, integrity, and transparency?

Essential programs and services

Are current programs and services based on the strengths of the organization?
Are current programs and services the most important for meeting the needs of clients and constituents?
Has the organization considered partnering or sharing responsibility for existing programs and services with partner organizations?

Partnerships and collaborations

Has the organization identified key partners that share its mission and vision?
Does the organization work closely with other nonprofits to expand its capacity and gain access to resources that are not available within the organization?
Has the organization developed a plan of action for collaborations that stresses the mutual benefits of working together and defines specific roles and responsibilities?


Does the organization have a communications plan for keeping all of its stakeholders informed during these tough economic times?
Is the organization striving for an open discussion and transparency to build trust with its key stakeholders?
Has the organization involved the board and other community partners in its communication outreach?
Have feedback mechanisms been instituted to ensure that the dialogue is a two-way communication with those who are invested in the organization?

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