Shediac-Rizkallah and Bone (1998) designed a framework for conceptualizing sustainability in community-based programs. The framework, displayed in Exhibit 4.6, is one of the earliest frameworks to systematically relate different factors to program sustainability. They identified three groups of factors that influence sustainability: 1) project design and implementation factors, 2) factors within the organizational setting, and 3) factors in the broader community environment. Project design and implementation factors are related to the resources available to the program (e.g., staff time, financial resources). Factors within the organizational setting are those that are related to organizational and managerial structures and processes (e.g., program location, program leadership, and institutional strength). Factors within the community context are the political, economic, and social issues that influence the program’s sustainability.
The design and implementation of the project and its sustainability are affected by the organizational and managerial structures in place as well as the community context. The community context affects the project design and implementation, the internal organizational and managerial structures and processes, and the sustainability of the program.
For each of these factors, the researchers develop questions that can be used to guide the sustainability planning process.
Exhibit 4.6: A Framework for Conceptualizing Program Sustainability
Reprinted from Shediac-Rizkallah and Bone (1998).
Exhibit 4.6 This exhibit shows the Shediac-Rizkallah and Bone (1998) framework for conceptualizing sustainability in community-based programs. The design and implementation of the project and its sustainability are affected by the organizational and managerial structures in place as well as the community context. The community context affects the project design and implementation, the internal organizational and managerial structures and processes, and the sustainability of the program.
Framework of Collaborative Sustainability
Rog et al. (2004) conducted a cross-site evaluation of 12 violence prevention collaboratives to identify predictors of sustainability. The researchers identified variables relevant to collaborative sustainability: impetus for establishing the collaborative, membership characteristics (composition, number of sectors involved, and extent of resident involvement), the structure of the collaborative, and the focus and operation of the collaborative. Categories for the values of the variables were constructed (e.g., high/medium/low diversity of funding). Then, the researchers conducted a case-oriented analysis, comparing and contrasting the variables across the collaboratives. Each collaborative was also categorized into one of five stages of sustainability:
- Expansion (expanding into additional locations, institutionalizing activities)
- Likely expansion (securing new leadership, considering expansion)
- Strategic assessment (taking stock of the current situation, developing strategic plan)
- Rebuilding (in the process or rebuilding after a crisis)
- No longer in operation
The researchers mapped a number of findings from each collaborative against each collaborative’s stage of development to identify relevant patterns of sustainability. This framework indicates that coalitions move through different stages of development over time, and that a variety of factors can affect their development.
The six models presented in this section provide useful ways to conceptualize sustainability in community coalitions. First, they demonstrate the importance of measuring both the sustainability of the coalition and the coalition’s activities separately. The sustainability of the coalition’s activities in the community does not necessitate the sustainability of the coalition. Second, several of the models have highlighted that there are different contextual factors that affect sustainability. Third, the models also identified a number of common coalition-specific factors that can be found within community coalitions. While many different factors were identified, the models have six types of factors in common suggesting their level of significance:
- Leadership competency
- Effective collaboration
- Attention to the long-term direction of the partnership / planning
- Demonstration of results / communication of value-added
- Strategic funding
- Community buy-in and participation
The next section discusses how some of these factors have been converted into formal measures and used in assessments of sustainability in community coalitions.