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Rural Health Information Hub

Definition of Sustainability in this Context

Philanthropies generally provide grants to rural organizations with a period of performance of 1-3 years, though the period of performance for grants can vary. Rural organizations may use a grant to start a program or purchase equipment — or to scale or evaluate program activities. However, this funding will end, so planning for sustainability is critical.

What does sustainability mean in the context of a rural program sustaining a partnership with a philanthropy? Sustainability depends on the rural program's goals and how the program is currently working with a philanthropy.

Sustainability approaches can include:

  • Fostering a positive relationship with the philanthropy when working on a grant, namely, by fulfilling grant requirements
  • Seeking funds from the philanthropy or another funder to continue or expand program activities
  • Maintaining a relationship with a specific person (like a project officer) at the philanthropy, even after a project has ended. Examples include sending program-related materials, sharing program impact, discussing areas where the program aligns with the philanthropy's work, and inviting the philanthropy to an event in the community.
  • Looking for new opportunities to engage with the philanthropy in the future