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Rural Health Information Hub

Why Sustainability Plans Are Needed

A sustainability plan is used to identify the aspects of a program that will continue over time. For example, a sustainability plan may focus on continuing a program’s activities, partnerships, or outcomes. Additionally, a program may decide to continue some, but not all, of the original program components. Rural community health programs will have different visions for sustainability, and therefore different types of sustainability actions may be appropriate, such as:

  • Identifying financially sustainable models
  • Securing resources from community partners
  • Using evaluation results to adjust program size or scope to fit available resources, such as scaling back some activities

Additionally, programs should create a continuity plan that describes how the program is conducted and lists important resources and information. A continuity plan ensures important procedures and information are documented and saved in case of staff turnover. A continuity plan can also help establish what is necessary to maintain a program if it is necessary to change different aspects of the program.

Resources to Learn More

A Sustainability Planning Guide for Healthy Communities
CDC has funded hundreds of communities to implement policy, system, and environmental change programs. This resource synthesizes real-life lessons learned from those experiences to share practices to inform other communities about how to establish their own sustainable programs.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Communities Program

Developing a Plan for Financial Sustainability
This toolkit describes the key elements involved in developing a plan for financial sustainability, and provides lessons that The Community Tool Box has learned from its own experiences.
Organization(s): University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development

Creating an Effective Plan for Your Sustainability Efforts
This website provides a guide for sustainability planning.
Author(s): Willard, M.
Organization(s): Axis Performance Advisors
Date: 2006

Sample Sustainability Action Plan
This sample plan demonstrates action steps to take during the first year.
Author(s): Voll, M.
Organization(s): Consulting Services for Community Solutions