There’s one topic that keeps all nonprofit leaders up at night: sustainability. How can we sustain our current staffing structure? How can we sustain our funding base? How can we reach financial sustainability in a new site? How can we sustain our impact given our community’s changing dynamics and needs?

At GreenLight, we are obsessed with sustainability. Our model is based on importing innovative, best-of nonprofits into our local communities – but we don’t want our portfolio organizations to only succeed in our communities for the four years we fund them. We work with them to create sustainable practices to ensure their staffing, financial model, and community engagement solidify them in our communities for the long run. Each year, we convene our portfolio organizations to learn from outside experts and one another on how to grow and sustain their work. This year, we invited all 17 of our portfolio organizations to join the convening, with the goal of sharing ideas and best practices and sparking ideas for growth that could create ripples of impact throughout our portfolio. For this year’s convening, our focus was on sustainability – with topics ranging from staffing to financial models to community impact. Here are just some of the best practices for sustainability surfaced from the convening:

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all secret to sustainability. But engaging your organization in these conversations, and reaching out to like-minded organizations that may be grappling with the same issues, can be helpful in determining what your unique model needs to be successful long-term.

GreenLight Fund’s National Portfolio


Special thanks to our portfolio convening presenters and facilitators: Chuck Gordon of New Kensington Group, Melinda Tuan of Fund for Shared Insight with Peter Katz of Genesys Works and Christine Kidd of Center for Employment Opportunities, Brian Joseph of RevJen, Cathy Burack, Alan Melchoir, Larry Bailis of Center for Youth and Communities at Brandeis University, Sue Bonaiuto of Single Stop, and Teresa Power of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.