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A core question that every donor agency seeks in a proposal is: ‘What is the Sustainability Plan for the project?’ This is very usual because all projects have limited time durations and donor agencies want to know what will happen to the all the efforts made by the project staff once the project ends. This can be very challenging but it is one of the most common questions donors want to ask whether the grant is for one year or for several years.
There can also be different kinds of sustainability: organizational sustainability, financial sustainability and/or community sustainability. Organizational sustainability is how the organization will continue to sustain in absence of the donor support. Financial sustainability is about the financial support required for the project or the organization after the grant has ended. Similarly, community sustainability is how the community will continue to carry out the project activities when there is no grant available.
First of all, while developing the sustainability plan, you need to mention how the community or the primary beneficiaries of the project will be participating in the implementation process. A community is an important project stakeholder and its involvement is ensured from day one of the project. When you explain this in the plan, you are able to convince the donor that sustainability is built into the core of the project. The organization will give the impression to the community that it is the owner of the project and it has to continue implementing it even after the support has been withdrawn.
The next part of the plan is to guarantee financial sustainability. In simple terms, where will the money for activities come from when the grant support has ended? For this, you can refer back to your project strategy where you have specifically mentioned about building community-based mechanisms such as a cooperative or a community association and the project costs would be covered from member contributions. This is an important element of project sustainability.
In some cases, the donor also wants to know how the organization will sustain after the grant. Here you can mention that the organization has its own fundraising skills which will be applied as a continuous process to raise funds from other funding agencies.