Survive and thrive: Three steps to securing your program’s sustainability

This guidebook for nonprofits by Kylie Hutchinson of Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation, Survive and Thrive: Three Steps to Securing Your Program’s Sustainability, presents a three-step strategy for ensuring programs have a lasting impact for years to come.

Also on the book's website are a number of related resources that can be accessed for free, and links to Community Solutions' Program Sustainability Planning Pinterest board.

This resource and the following information was contributed by Kylie Hutchinson.

Authors and their affiliation

Kylie Hutchinson, Principal, Community Solutions Planning & Evaluation

Key features

This guide is designed for programs wishing to develop a formal program sustainability action plan. Many program staff and funders are concerned about the ongoing sustainability of their successful programs. The guide succinctly summarizes current research into the promoters of program sustainability (evaluation is a big one) and presents many case studies of programs grappling with sustainability. The guide presents six straightforward step-by-step exercises for teams to develop their own program sustainability plan. It also includes a chapter directed towards funders and donors and what role they can play in fostering greater sustainability of their grant-funded programs.

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

For this resource I have taken the content of 15+ years of research, consulting, and training in the field of program sustainability with NGOs and turned it into a friendly and accessible guide on how to develop a program sustainability plan. Evaluators and program staff can read the guide to learn about the organizational and program factors associated with sustainability, then follow the step-by-step exercises with their team and other stakeholders to develop their own plan. In addition to six group exercises, there is an agenda for a full-day sustainability planning retreat. The guide also has a chapter on how funders can contribute to greater program sustainability.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

Research shows a strong link between evaluation and program sustainability. Many programs concerned about evaluation are also concerned about their long-term sustainability. Many evaluation practitioners and consultants are also interested in helping support NGOs with their program sustainability issues.

To my knowledge, this is the only step-by-step guide that shows programs and organizations how to develop their own program sustainability plan. It also summarizes years of research into what promotes program sustainability in one tidy chapter for readers. There is a strong call to action for funders and donors to adopt more sustainable practices with their granting programs.


Hutchinson, K. (2016). Survive and thrive: Three steps to securing your program’s sustainability. Vancouver, BC: Community Solutions. Retrieved from