UNDERSTANDING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE NONPROFIT COMMUNITY


To identify community needs and set priorities, sustainable development theorists emphasize the need to determine community preferences and balance competing interests.

Many people think of sustainable development in strictly ecological and environmental terms. However, it can be applied to a wide range of social and economic concerns, such as poverty, education, health care, or cultural enrichment. It includes hospitals and universities, museums, dance theaters, art galleries, employment and training centers, youth development programs, child care centers, food banks, drug treatment and prevention centers, animal shelters, and more.

Sustainability is not just an environmentalist buzzword. The goal of any good charity should be to work itself out of a job. It comes down to “teaching a man to fish” instead of just giving out fish indefinitely.

Sustainable development is a response to the need of human society to develop qualitatively rather than quantitatively and in line with limitations arising from our environment. It does not take into account merely economic growth, but also societal values and natural resources. Sustainability in the nonprofit context includes the concepts of financial sustainability, as well as leadership succession planning, adaptability, and strategic planning.

Sustainable development focuses on managing the process of change, not on setting an end goal with fixed outcomes. It recognizes that uncertainties exist, necessitating flexible and ongoing processes. It also supports diversity and differences within the local setting.

Sustainable development requires looking at the broader picture of communities, while constantly thinking critically about and fine-tuning the small intricacies of the relationships that ultimately shape these communities. In popular terms, the implementation of sustainable development means to think globally and act locally.

Every nonprofit organization is unsustainable in some way. It goes beyond the challenge of maintaining ongoing revenue; sustainability also has to do with the ability to effectively address a social problem, embrace risk, and build community awareness and support year after year after year. They operate in an increasingly turbulent context where building sustainable organizations has emerged as a critical need.

The long-term goals of the sustainable development movement are to empower people, increase community participation, foster social cohesion, enhance cultural identity, and strengthen institutional development. Equity and fairness are also integral to sustainable development. If community members have a sense of ownership in the decision-making processes and feel that scarce resources have been distributed in an equitable and fair manner, the likelihood of success is vastly improved.

The importance of nonprofit organizations and other nongovernmental organizations in promoting sustainable development was internationally recognized in Agenda 21, the comprehensive plan of action adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Successful charities – of any size – need dedication, passion, hard work and determination to achieve their goals, and that should include sustainability in themselves. Pursuing “sustainability” is often very important to funders. Most donors are concerned about sustainability aspect of a project and often fund projects which have a well defined sustainability plan in place. Integrating sustainability principles in their ongoing projects can be an effective way to ensure long term impact. Sustainability planning is an important step for nonprofits as it prepares an organization to deliver positive outcome in the absence of primary funding.

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About The Author:

Rumishael Ulomi (RyChris), the Publisher and Creator of RYCHRIS JOURNAL is a Christian Believer, Singer, Entrepreneur, and an Independent Social Sector Consultant residing in Moshi, Tanzania interested in helping others thrive and grow. LEARN MORE HERE
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