An Eye for the Future - Part 3

In this series, I am looking at sustainability in our work. The first post addressed some larger issues and thoughts about costs of ongoing projects followed by a post on grant fails   Today, let's consider the sustainability factor of  successful grant-funded  projects.

So what are key components to create sustainability in grant-funded projects?

First don't write it if you can't see a way to sustain the project, keep it fresh or easily make changes to evolve it to meet changing community needs. Taking a pile of money, creating a thing and letting it languish seems to be wasteful. If, in your grant planning, you figure what you need to keep the initiative or service going beyond the grant, it means two things: the grant start-up money is well-used to kick things off and you actually need the service or initiative enough to justify putting future general budget funds into keeping it fresh.

Grant Wins
Here are two examples of sustainability thinking we used in creating and thinking about projects we wanted to continue beyond their initial grant cycle.

2nd Grade Library Stars
Based on meetings with our LMC colleagues who suggested we bring in one grade level for an introduction to the library, we decided to reach out to all second graders and offer a field trip adventure at our Main Library location.  The biggest expense for this was going to be transportation - only one school is in walking distance of our Youth Services Department.

We wrote a Community Foundation grant for buses for $1000 and looked at our program budget for the future to fund the project in ensuing years. If we didn't book three outside performers, we would have that money.

The tours were a huge hit with the teachers, kids and staff. The worth of them was so apparent that the schools funded the buses the second year. Now we are looking at adding seventh grade and kindergarten field trips annually and the schools have agreed to split the bus costs.  This makes these visits sustainable for both organizations.  And because of the impact of the visits and the positives that have resulted, if we needed to fund raise to keep them going, I believe we would have no trouble in gaining support.

Baby Book Bees
We offer our 1000 Books program to children ages 1-5 but really wanted to catch families with their children from birth. So we developed a pre-1000 BksB4K efforts asking parents to read 100 books to their baby before their first birthday.  We decided that offering a little bib at sign-up with the library name and a book as a culminating incentive would be swell.

We wrote a Target grant to fund these two pieces and we received that grant - for twice the amount we asked for! This allowed us to fund the effort beyond a year and get better pricing on the bibs and books.  And how will we maintain this effort beyond this grant funding? We plan to enfold this initiative into the funds for 1000 Books (that original $7000 raised). Once this money is expended, we'll look into using existing programming money to continue or do a special fundraising appeal.

I think, dear readers, you are starting to see how thread of funding for projects needs to be worked into the warp and weave of regular budgets for programs and collections if sustainability is a goal.

Next post, we'll leave special projects behind and look at the sustainability of our programs. See you then!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

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