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Keep the Cash Flowing: Creating Funding Sustainability for Your Nonprofit

Keep the Cash Flowing: Creating Funding Sustainability for Your Nonprofit

Creating a sustainability funnel for your nonprofit is vital to your success. As a grant writer, the immediate response to creating sustainability is aggressive grant research and grant writing. However, as a nonprofit there are a number of ways to further your sustainability, including varying grant funding sources, enterprise,and products. Sustainability is an executive and board responsibility a should be part of a solid comprehensive plan for your organization. The plan should include detailed strategic planning to execute the endeavor which in turn should include implementation plans for each sustainability endeavor. Let’s take a look at three options to create funding sustainability.

Varied Funding Sources

Many times, nonprofits have niche or specific work they do. For instance, an organization that provides services to victims of sexual assault will often look to funding from Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women and a few other niche or smaller realms of funding. One way to increase funding options is to expand the services and programs you offer to make your organization more relevant to a broader base of funders. This is especially important right now due to the changing political scene and funding cuts. Your board and executive should identify areas for expansion that still align with your core mission but also expand what you’re doing. So, sexual assault services? What was previously just funded by Department of Justice and the Office on Violence Against Women now becomes applicable to Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, state funding opportunities, and foundation funding opportunities.


As a nonprofit, unrestricted funding is hard to come by. With sister enterprises, a nonprofit can establish a funding source that will assist in sustainability and the golden unrestricted dollar. When determining what enterprises make sense for your organization to branch out into, research the work you already do and think about how other organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, could benefit from your experience and expertise. For example, you’re an established nonprofit that provides curriculum development and professional development services to educational institutions.  With little time and effort, you can establish a for-profit enterprise model that helps education companies develop their own curriculum and implementation services for educators.

As you look for enterprise directions that your nonprofit can easily support, consider consulting services such as grant evaluation and marketing. Every grant program requires some type of marketing approach to spread the word about programs and accomplish objectives. Develop staff within your organization that can move between your nonprofit and for-profit endeavors. The nonprofit cost for software and development can be written into your grants but also utilized for your for-profit marketing and graphic design enterprise.


Products are technically an enterprise but since they require a little different method and approach we’ll look at them separately. Product development requires intellectual property rights and a host of development and research based methods to become vital tools for service. If you are designing curriculum based on your nonprofit endeavor you are feeding your research based component required by many of your federal and state funding sources. If you are developing a model for programs and/or grant writing training tools such as books, training, webinars etc. you will need your nonprofit to feed you trends and research that is currently in play at the federal and state levels to ensure you are contemporary and moving dynamically to accomplish your objective.

When considering each approach to creating a sustainability funnel there is one additional element that cannot be overlooked, staff. You must continuously develop your staff’s knowledge and skills to successfully support both your nonprofit and for-profit endeavors. As you develop each employee, you will create an unparalleled professional standard and a foundation that will lead your organization to a great deal of success.

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