Sometimes it seems like community work has a high price tag and no one wants to foot the bill. There is so much change we want to see happen, but our finances are in such a sorry state. All we are trying to do is maintain what we have done so far. Most times staff are underpaid, overworked and burned out; necessary programs are dropped or scaled back because there is no money. Closing of organizations’ doors is a common fear for employees in many companies. In some cases, the doors do slam shut. This may sound familiar to many startups and more established organizations in developing countries, like Kenya.
With donor fatigue in rich nations and increased confidence in developing countries, more and more people are talking about organizations and businesses standing on their own two feet and becoming financially sustainable. But what does financial sustainability look like?
There is no agreed definition of what financial sustainability is, but it is about being able to be there for your beneficiaries in the long term. It is the opposite of having to cease your activities simply because you have run out of money.
Having a financial sustainability plan will go a long way in making a business sustainable. Although it might seem otherwise, a plan for financial sustainability is not just about getting money. Your plan might well be to raise some dollars but that’s not the whole story. It will also include other types of resources you will obtain such as in-kind support or shared resources from other organizations. One thing, a plan for financial sustainability will take if done right is time. It is a long process. By developing such a plan, your finances become more secure.
Companies whose finances are secure, maintain a real focus on their mission and not just operating on a day to day survival. It also helps companies become more competitive as more money allows them to hire more staff hence gaining a wide range of skills.
Knowing how a company can manage resources is essential to achieving financial sustainability. Efficient procedures for administration and finances governed by a series of institutional policies help make most resources and finances transparent. They also allow for the generation of income through the financial management of available assets. In many businesses and organizations, accounting procedures are set up by project facilitators who often require specific accounting categories and codes.
Achieving financial sustainability is a long term goal that requires the concerted efforts of the entire organization. It is an on-going process that has to become part of our day to day management: in strategic planning, administration, and finances. We must also recall that creativity alone is not enough to achieve financial sustainability. We must adopt the most advanced strategies and methods within which our grasp to maximize our potential for success. Achieving this should no longer be an impossible dream.