Sustainability is the ability to endure in ways that are environment-friendly. In this case, environment refers to both the natural and social context in which WIPs operate.

Many factors play a role in the sustainability of WIPs. Some of these are outlined below:

  1. Social reporting: constant monitoring and recording is key to sustainability. At every given moment, you should be able to demonstrate the social impact of the WIP with accurate, effective measures of impacts and outcomes. To do this:
    • Ensure recording is done with an easy-to-use system
    • Conduct regular reviews to ensure that what your programme is providing is what is required
    • Collect information on the perceived value of the programme to selected stakeholders (funders, referrers, etc.)
    • Involve target group participants in self-evaluation as this kind of reporting can feed into case studies, which can have a greater effect than statistics
  1. Finance: to be sustainable, a project needs long-term financial support. This can be achieved:
    • In full or in part, through commercial activity
    • Through stable and ongoing funding from public health or social care authorities
    • Donations from grant-making bodies

Financial sustainability enables the WIP not to lose focus, as would happen if you would repeatedly find yourself in need of chasing money. It is important to regularly provide information on social impact and outcomes both to funders and commercial customers. Whenever customers realise the social impact of the business they are engaging with, their loyalty is strengthened as they can regard themselves as contributors to the project. Try to provide them with simple, clear examples of this: for example, how many training sessions were funded by business income in the last quarter?

  1. Referral stream: building a strong relationship with potential referrers is crucial. As above, simple and clear examples are worth using. For example:
    • Describe cases to illustrate how you work and what can be achieved by target group participants
    • Provide information on social impact and outcomes, just as you would to funders. If there is no demonstrable demand for the service, it is certain that it will not survive.