Many YouthBuild programs depend largely on one or two funding sources, which makes it challenging to sustain the program for long-term growth. Programs can be at risk of having to reduce services or even having to close when major sources of funding are lost.  Successful YouthBuild programs have diversified funding sources and have established solid partnerships with other local community-based organizations that provide similar services.
Sustainability means finding sufficient, stable resources to enable your program to survive in an on-going basis. It includes requires on-going and cyclical activities required for an agency to become completely integrated into the community – to serve the community’s needs and to be supported by the community in return. It is a habit of constantly testing the environment to understand what is new and changing; identifying the community needs your program addresses; establishing partnerships with institutions and agencies with compatible goals; communicating your success; requesting and receiving financial support for your work; constantly working to improve your services; and being actively involved in this cycle at all times.

Some first steps to program sustainability include:
  1. Identifying potential partners that can offer a broad range of support;
  2. Internalizing your program mission across your staff and finding new ways to carry it out;
  3. Making sure your program is visible and active in your community;
  4. Presenting your message, including how your program meets community needs, your outcomes, and the features that make your program durable and effective. Developing a sustainability plan that includes: integration of fundraising into overall organizational operations; diversifying funding streams; and leveraging social media.

Our recent webinar,Building Blocks to Sustainability: Strategies for Long-Term Impact (recording available at this link by 11-16-16), held on Tuesday, November 8that 2pm EST to learn how to succeed at sustainability despite the changing funding landscape. During this webinar participants received tips on creating a clear strategy for ensuring program continuation beyond the life of any one given grant. You will also hear from staff at Mile High Youth Corps in Denver and YouthBuild Philadelphia who are active in leveraging social media to promote events, fundraise, and tell their stories.

Both of these programs have been utilizing social media as a key sustainability tool through social media scavenger hunts, crowdfunding posts, monthly updated calendars of major events, Facebook posts, agency webpages, and other sources.  Follow the links below to see examples of how these two programs are being creative in their use of social media. 

Mile High Youth Corps and Social Media

YouthBuild Philly and Social Media

Here are some resources to help you begin to build your sustainability plan:

Achieving Sustainability at a YouthBuild Program-- This handbook is directed toward YouthBuild programs that have historically depended largely on one or two major funding sources. It provides the foundation to build a sustainability plan for your program, and includes exercises to help you in your planning, and case studies of programs that have been successful in running solid, well-managed, sustainable programs.

Building Sustainability: Organizational Assessment - In this three part series, grantees will learn the role organizational assessments play in sustainability.

Program Sustainability – Mapping Key Stakeholders as Potential Resources-- An example of mapping key stakeholders, which lists initiatives, current stakeholders, current funders, potential funders and potential partners to attract additional money. Also included is a template for mapping your own key stakeholders.