A framework for post-grant sustainability planning

Nancy Maron of Ithaka S+R, which has produced a range of reports and resources for the Strategic Content Alliance on the subject of sustainability of digital resources, has created a framework to help project leaders define the steps needed to achieve sustainable outcomes.

Read on to download the Framework tool.

When planning to build a digital resource, project leaders tend to spend a great deal of time thinking about the planning and execution of the project itself, and considerably less time thinking about what will happen once the resource is built and operational.

This framework is an attempt to walk project leaders –and those who support them—through defining the steps needed to achieve sustainable outcomes.

This framework should be equally useful for all types of projects. You may find yourself filling in just some of the boxes for more “closed-ended” projects, such as a research paper. But for projects that are likely to resulting in an ongoing enterprise – a large contributed database, for example – you are likely to need to address questions in nearly every column.

First, DEFINE what the post-grant impact will be. Do you expect the resource to continue to grow, adding new content and updating functionality? Or do you simply want to make sure that the content you have created remains safe and preserved for future users?

Next, SET GOALS for each of the types of sustainable outcomes you will need to have, in order to make this IMPACT possible. So, If you are hoping that your resource continues to grow and add content, you will need to think about what this really means: How much? How often? Created by whom? And so forth.

Next, what ACTIVITIES will these goals require? If adding new and updated content is a goal, who will be doing this and how? Will this require full time staff, or volunteer help?

Next, what will these activities COST? Describe what supporting these activities will require in terms of cost. Think about this picture across the full range of sustainability activities needed for your resource.  Some activities may be contributed (not paid), but include these here, too, to gain a fuller sense of the costs of operating this resource.

Finally, given the full range of activities and costs across all types of sustainability, think about what the REVENUE needs will be post-grant. Some may be covered by a host institution; some by contributed sources from partners or volunteers; but there is likely to be some amount that will still need to be covered each year. Start thinking about different ways that you will be able to provide this.

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