Sustainability is increasingly a focus for government and philanthropic granting organizations. Community organizations and collaboratives recognize that programs that come and go as grant dollars ebb and flow have a negative impact on health system capacity, on trust in local institutions, and on community health. Thus, community-based programs, nonprofit organizations, and collaborations are concerned with sustaining programs or services beyond initial grant periods and pilot phases.
The Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) developed the Sustainability Framework © to describe the fundamental characteristics and capacities associated with long-term viability and lasting community impact. This framework is the result of an assessment of the current literature, GHPC’s extensive field experience providing technical assistance to more than 1,000 communities, and our study of 102 sustained rural health programs.
Sustainability does not happen by accident, nor can it be achieved through a prescribed formula. But sustained programs and organizations do appear to have some attributes in common. The Sustainability Framework describes nine elements of strategy, capacity, and action that help to position an organization or program for sustainability:
- Strategic Vision
- Evaluation and Return on Investment
- Efficiency & Effectiveness
- Relevance and Practicality
- Resource Diversification
Components of the GHPC Sustainability Framework have been built into a curriculum that includes presentations for webinars, workshops, site visits, self-directed quick courses, bite-sized learning, and e-learning modules.