An Assessment of the Sustainability and Impact of Community Coalitions once Federal Funding has Expired. Areas for Future Research

06/01/2012

Researchers are investigating the formation and development of community coalitions—from their initial mobilization and development of key structures and processes, to their implementation and sustainability. Our findings shed light on the sustainability outcomes of community coalitions and the factors that impact sustainability. However, there is a dearth of empirical information on what happens to coalitions once they have formed, developed, and reached a sustained state of activity. One opportunity for future research is to study coalitions that have reached a sustained state—one, five, and ten years post-initial funding. Future research should explore whether there are different stages of coalition sustainability, how coalitions mature and evolve in each of these stages, and whether their characteristics and capacities change over time.

Another area for future research is identifying funding models for coalition sustainability and the optimal length of funding. For example, researchers should explore the sustainability of coalitions that received different types of funding through different funding models: coalitions that received decreasing annual resources (e.g., 100 percent year one, 50 percent year two, 10 percent year three to five); matching funds only; short-term capacity building or operations funding; and long-term infrastructure funding. While sustainability is a process that occurs over time, funders and policy makers would benefit from more information about the optimal length of time to fund a coalition or program to achieve its goals.

Finally, no single study can investigate every coalition characteristic or capacity that may affect sustainability. Future research should continue to explore different factors, their interactions, and conditions that foster community coalition sustainability.

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