How to Write the Sustainability Section of Your Grant Proposal

The Sequel to Your Proposal's Story

Will Ferrell Designs Limited Edition Coffee Cup for 7-Eleven 'Coffee Cup With A Cause'
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No funders like to think that their grant will only fund a project for a short time.

Before investing in your project, your funder, whether a foundation, corporation or government agency, will want to know how you plan to support the proposed project into the future. They also want to know that your charity, as a whole, is financially healthy and sustainable over the long term

Cheryl A. Clarke, author of the very useful, Storytelling for Grantseekers, suggests that you think of the sustainability part of your grant (or the future funding plan) as the sequel to the story you told throughout your proposal.

Make sure that your future funding section provides a solid and specific blueprint of how your agency intends to raise the money to continue operating its programs and continuing to serve its clients and community.

Clarke provides a menu of funding strategies that a nonprofit can draw on to compose a future funding plan.

  • Fee for service. Can you charge clients a fee for the services provided. This can be a flat fee or a sliding fee based on individual income.
  • Entrepreneurial business ventures. Consider revenue from thrift shops, retail stores, coffee stands, the sale of greeting cards, DVDs or other merchandise.
  • Membership program or annual fund campaign. Is there a way to create a membership program that charges dues? Or an annual fund campaign to reach donors interested in this kind of charitable program?
  • Major-gifts program. Can you identify, cultivate, and solicit donors that have the potential of making large gifts?
  • New donor acquisition program. Consider starting a direct-mail campaign to add new donors and thus increase your income.
  • Make it easy for donors to give online.
  • Corporate sponsorships. Can you partner with corporate and business sponsors, especially for fundraising events such as galas, golf tournaments, or charity runs?
  • Tap employer-based fundraising. Can your agency qualify to participate in employer-based fundraising campaigns such as the United Way or other federated campaigns?
  • Government funding. Do some research to find out if local, state, or federal agencies provide funding for the programs you are setting up.

Any of these, or others you might think of, may become effective strategies for raising funds to cover your agency's activities. In your grant proposal, describe in detail which strategies you will use. Include information about hiring additional staff or independent contractors if that is part of your plan.

By the time your proposal has been read, the funder may care deeply about your clients and the service you propose to offer. Don't pull the rug out at the end...provide reassurance that this program will go on, and that your nonprofit will remain strong.

Sample Sustainability Section

Future Funding for Philanthropy by Design

In the past year, Philanthropy by Design (PBD) has approached several new grantmakers for support, and we are pleased to report that PBD has received grants from the San Francisco Foundation (for technical assistance and capacity building), the True North Foundation, the van Loben Sels Foundation, and GATX Capital Corporation.

With assistance from the San Francisco Foundation, PBD was able to hire a fundraising consultant who is working with our board of directors to develop and implement a strategic fundraising plan that will incorporate an expanded annual giving program. Building a larger individual donor base will complement PBD's successful grant seeking program and help ensure our financial future. PBD currently has five grant proposals pending, requesting a total of $50,000.

*Sample reprinted with permission from Storytelling for Grantseekers, Second Edition, Cheryl A. Clarke, Jossey-Bass, 2009


Storytelling for Grantseekers, Second Edition, Cheryl A. Clarke, Jossey-Bass, 2009

Grant Writing for Dummies, 4th Edition, Beverly A. Browning, Wiley, 2011.

Winning Grants, Step by Step, Third Edition, Mim Carlson and Tori O'Neal-McElrath, Jossey-Bass, 2008

Back to How to Write a Grant Proposal.

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