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Why Demonstrating Sustainability in Grant Applications Is Important


The people who award funds from foundations want you to succeed. They want you to have a positive impact on the people you serve. Your future success, in part, depends on how you will fund your program after their funding has been expended. They want to know that you have a plan beyond this one grant award. What can you say that will demonstrate your organization’s ability to sustain its programs?

More than Money

The statements below are ones I often see when reviewing grant proposals for my clients.

These statements miss the opportunity to share their larger vision for their organizations.

How can you illustrate your sustainability plans besides asking for more money? The answers to these questions can be shared in your grant proposal.

  • Are you creating ongoing collaborations with community partners?

  • Is your board of directors developing new policies to address systemwide change?

  • Is your organization investing in professional development for your leadership team?

Your answers to these questions let your funder know you and your team are planning for the future and consider their funding a launching point.

Capacity Building

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, capacity building is about your nonprofit organization’s ability to deliver its mission effective now and in the future. Capacity building is an investment. It’s an investment in your people and your organization. A few examples of capacity building are updating technology, investing in professional development for staff, and developing a succession plan.


As a grant writer and certified grant trainer, I like to share resources. Sustaining Improved Outcomes: A Toolkit (Thomas and Zahn, 2010) is a book which offers many more ideas on sustainability planning.

Successful capacity building strengthens a nonprofit’s ability to fulfill its mission and have a positive impact on lives and communities. Communicating your capacity building goals to your funders will help you be more successful with your fundraising.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in startup and smaller nonprofits because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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