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How to support the sustainability of funded projects

For Fair Share Trust, ensuring funded projects create a positive lasting impact has to be foremost in the minds of Local Agents. For local projects which have benefited from Fair Share Trust funding, it can often be a case of trying to survive. But is continuation funding always really essential and is it possible to achieve sustainability simply by creating the impact?

This how-to looks the different componets of achieving sustanability and creating a lasting impact on your area.

Things you'll need

  • The 7 Components of Sustainability:
  • High level planning
  • Financial planning
  • Partnership working
  • Communication
  • Learning and developing
  • Management ability and capacity
  • Environmental impact
1

High level planning

Local Agents have been trying to ensure that the remaining Fair Share Trust funding can have the greatest possible impact in their areas. Grant-making is now underway which focuses on the lasting impact that future projects must make  - from Merseyside Community Foundation where the panel has favoured re-investing in five key projects to ensure they are more sustainable, through to Quartet Community Foundation where grants have been made to develop support for social enterprise organisations. Greater emphasis needs to be on ensuring that individual projects are seen by the panel and the Local Agent as contributing to the whole of the local Fair Share Trust programme. Projects should be told of other Fair Share Trust projects in their area so they can refer to and learn from each other, as well as to understand how they individually contribute to the Fair Share Trust vision.

2

Financial planning

With most projects having finite funding, retaining staff in the final year can be a problem which can jeopardise projects. Possible solutions include retention payments, increased use of volunteers or planning to decrease service provision towards the end of a project. A small grant of £13,539 from the Community Foundation for Greater Manchester made the goal of self-sufficiency that little bit easier for the Mossley Juniors Football Club. The club used the grant to ensure that its fundraising events were well planned and attracted more people. The money the events raised went towards maintaining the club’s core costs and ensured that they were less reliant on grants in the future.

3

Building lasting partnerships

Understanding the environment in which you operate is key to the longevity of local projects. Concerned about the impact the recession would have on valuable local projects, Quartet Community Foundation worked with its Local Strategic Partnership to develop the North Somerset Recession Fund, which supported at-risk voluntary and community sector organisations through the provision of grants. Working in partnership to consider the financial climate and plan ahead may well have saved some valuable services from ruin. It is this type of consideration which Neath & Port Talbot’s panel and locally funded project took into account when it increased costs for a project providing maintenance services just as the recession was beginning to bite. From a position of higher-than-anticipated requests for the service, demand fell sharply as the project’s elderly and disabled clients decided to “make do and mend”.

4

Communication is key

When residents of a local area complained that they missed their discontinued newsletter, the panel decided to fund a new quarterly newsletter for every household in the area. The newsletter discussed money, Lincolnshire Community Foundation responded positively to a local request and ensured that the Fair Share Trust programme was known about and promoted in the local area. When people understand what it is you do, this can have a very real, lasting and positive impact on local individuals and communities.

For Local Agents and projects, being able to articulate clearly what it is you need and why you need it is important when it comes to that all-important ask of a potential funder. Being able to prove the need can, however, win the day. Many projects fall down on this important part of sustainability planning, not because they don’t undertake research but because they don’t collect the most valuable commodity they have: evidence. It can be qualitative or quantitative; can demonstrate the need and the impact; can be used to describe the journeys of individuals and communities; and can ensure that lessons learned are applied. Most projects have this evidence in some way but not all collect and use it systematically.

Lincolnshire Community Foundation took a formal route to demonstrate need by commissioning an evaluation of their Fair Share Trust programme. The evaluation took place mid-way through with the aim of providing evidence of local impact and trying to encourage local investment into the area.

The Community Foundation in Wales took a different tack by supporting a pilot project in Caerphilly to create a new advocacy service. Evidence of need would be built during the one-year pilot project and would be used to strengthen the project’s final application to a major funder and to support the development of potential contracts with local statutory services.

5

Local panel skills and capacity

Local panels can play a key role in ensuring that greater sustainability is achieved. Supporting projects to review their applications to ensure that they have learnt from previous years is something which Tyne & Wear and Northumberland Community Foundation embraced when it received an application for phase two of a young people’s project. The panel was interested in supporting the project but only if the application reflected lessons learned in phase one. Supporting such resubmissions stresses the importance that panels place on learning lessons: a key part of building sustainability.

Similarly, using grant terms can be a very effective way of emphasising the importance of sustainability. When Pennine Cascades Dance Troupe requested additional funding from the Community Foundation for Greater Manchester, the panel was happy to make the small grant on condition that the group worked with the Fair Share Trust-funded development worker to look at increasing its local business sponsorship and the skills base of its volunteers, thus making it more sustainable.

For panels to influence in this way, they need to understand the different components of sustainability and the ways in which their influence can be built in. Encouraging cross-panel discussions, peer-to-peer support and providing training sessions can all help panels to use their sustainability influence wisely.

6

Tales of the unexpected

Sometimes the best laid plans simply do not yield the expected outcome. A project through Basildon Adult Community College in Essex existed to support adults into education, but was not a project the lead organisation wished to continue managing.

The project did, however, have a sustainable impact on the area with local agencies maintaining the established networks to ensure that local residents continued to access information, guidance and advice about educational opportunities in Essex

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Page last edited Jul 05, 2017 History

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