How Do You Sustain Your Grant Funded Programs?

SPOILER ALERT: More grant funding is not the answer.


Listen. I get it. I have been funding projects and programs with grants for the last 21 years, and I despise the sustainability question.  If I were brutally honest, my answer to that question would sound like this: Look, dear funder, I appreciate that you are thinking ahead. It’s smart. But right now, I’m in the middle of developing three federal proposals, managing 15 open grants, writing my organization’s newsletter from cover to cover, and answering the phones a few hours a day while our department’s admin assistant is on vacation this week. I’m just trying to get this done by the deadline and fund the program for the next year. Any chance you know of other funders who love this type of project? If so, please send their websites my way, and I’ll happily submit a proposal to them.


And that’s from the polite Fundraising HayDay cohost. If you listen to the Fundraising HayDay podcast, you know that my cohost Kimberly would have more to say.


The reality is this: we all want our organizations to continue their good works for as long as needed. And that means we need program sustainability. It means thinking beyond this grant application. It means coming up with a sustainability plan for your programming.


Grant professionals need input and assistance from their organization’s boards, executive directors, development team, finance department, program officers, and more. Together, we need to consider ways to fund the program beyond the grant. This means looking at all the many ways our organizations can bring in money and save money. Options to consider include:

  • Other grant funding sources
  • Individual giving
  • Fees for service
  • Volunteers
  • Collaboration
  • Shared resources
  • Special events
  • Social enterprise
  • In-kind resources
  • Taxes
  • Redesigning operations.


If you look at the whole picture, you can develop a list of plausible means to fund your program(s) beyond the grant. And if you have a list of options at your fingertips, you are always ready to answer the sustainability question. Isn’t that a better answer than simply telling the funder you’ll be back at their doorstep next year?


If you want to learn more about building a sustainability plan and alternative funding options, check out Fundraising HayDay’s latest episode here: How To: Sustainability ( Better yet, share it with your board and colleagues. It would be a great start for kicking off your sustainability planning.


DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 5 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on seasons 1 – 4 and stay up to date on the new season here.

Don’t let grants stress you out, check out the helpful grant writing services our team has to offer here.


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