“Sustainability. SUSTAINABILITY… SUS-TAIN-A-BIL-I-TY!”
This happens to be the one word I chant as of late, and for good reason too. Lack of sustainability is easily one of the (broken) foundations for the stream of NGOs that fail to get off the ground, or get off the ground and then fail to remain; and it’s the reason why countries all over the world are still considered ‘developing’ rather than ‘developed’. Lack of sustainabiliy is one of our world’s biggest problems.
What is sustainability? Sustainability means having a model that is self-contained. Sustainability does not, and cannot, rely on local or international funding; sustainability does not rely on handouts. Sustainability is the capacity to endure. It is a commitment. In terms of a project, let us equate sustainability with generating income, donations not included.
So, how do we ensure sustainability? What does it look like? And what is the easiest way to make sure that sustainability itself is, well, sustainable. First off, sustainability needs to be one of our building blocks – perhaps the biggest block of all. As we set out to begin any project, we must remember that sustainability is the foundation and the goal of that project. That means: minimal resource consumption and a decent capital that is long-lasting – not a big bang that slowly dwindles. By incorporating sustainability into our initial plans we can be confident that it will remain a focus and that five years later we won’t be stepping backwards. However, it is a bit of a learning process.
As you kick off your project, be sure to have goals – accompanied by time and dates –, and when those goals aren’t met, re-evaluate what you’re doing, and make the changes necessary to continue generating an income that, in the end, will support all of the other things you need to accomplish.
For example, a poultry farming project: how long will it take to complete the items necessary for running it? What are the costs? After how long can you expect to generate an income? How can you market your project to ensure that income will be there? Once your income is tangible, how will you manage it? What will you put the money towards? How can you, and those around you, benefit at a maximum level? In the future, how can you expand further?
Something to think about as we move forward and invest our time and energy in things we are passionate about and try to make the world a better place…