Nonprofit Sustainability

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In an environmental context, "sustainability" generally means finding a way to use resources in a manner that prevents their depletion. For charitable nonprofits, the phrase “sustainability” is commonly used to describe a nonprofit that is able to sustain itself over the long term, perpetuating its ability to fulfill its mission. Sustainability in the nonprofit context includes the concepts of financial sustainability, as well as leadership succession planning, adaptability, and strategic planning.

In order for a nonprofit to be sustainable, the nonprofit’s leaders need to know how much it costs to deliver the nonprofit’s programs and services, so that the nonprofit can raise enough money to cover those costs. When a nonprofit is always catching up, but never has enough resources to cover its costs AND invest in its own infrastructure, this has been dubbed “the nonprofit starvation cycle.”

For some organizations, finding a way to diversify income streams can be one avenue towards sustainability. For others, it’s putting a thoughtful succession plan in place. We offer suggestions for a variety of useful resources on nonprofit sustainability below.

Tools for sustainability

Resources

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