Driving Sustainability: The Role of the Funder and Program Design

Recognizing that health system transformation is an iterative process, an essential component of the AF4Q work was to ensure the innovative work occurring in each community continued beyond 2015. The ongoing impact of AF4Q and the ability to further AF4Q goals will be dependent, in some part, on how well Alliances demonstrate, produce, and articulate tangible value to stakeholders—physicians, hospitals, health plans, consumers, purchasers, and employers. It is by defining and creating value that Alliances can identify alternative funding sources and opportunities for revenue generation.  Building Alliance capacity, knowledge, and skills to sustain the work of AF4Q has been an ongoing priority since the program’s inception.

Funders can help drive change well beyond the termination of grant funding and technical assistance. Along with investing in a community’s change strategy, funders set the stage for sustainability through program design and funding expectations. Such elements of structure and support can help ensure a given project develops sound financial footing, a focused business strategy, and the organizational capacity to deliver on goals. Below are key questions funders should consider in constructing an initiative focused toward long-term success. 

Economic Viability

  • What will you do to ensure that other funders are actively investing in the collaborative with you and getting shared credit and recognition for their support?
  • How will you balance the desire to drive decision-making with the need to ensure collaboration and effectiveness?
  • What will you do to help to ensure the multi-stakeholder collaborative’s financial fluency and the systems or processes needed to provide long-term impact?
  • What is your exit plan? What financial or operational support will you provide? If you will continue some financial support, will any contingencies be attached?

Focused Business Strategy

  • What will you do to bring together cross-sector community members (leaders across the nonprofit, government, foundation, and private sectors) to determine the unique role of the collaborative?
  • How will you contribute to creating a service-oriented, market-driven culture to ensure the collaborative creates valuable products and services?
  • What in-kind resources can you provide to help the collaborative develop its business strategy?

Capacity to Deliver

  • How can you support a culture of learning and development across the collaborative?
  • How can you help to engage the collaborative participants to provide feedback to the collaborative leadership team?
  • What role will you play in ensuring that the board of directors consists of diverse, cross-disciplinary perspectives that are representative of the community and stakeholders?
  • How will you help shape partnership principles that define how decisions are made, how communications take place, and the ways in which stakeholders can actively engage in the work?