With the long process of submitting a grant proposal out of the way, researchers who have had their proposal accepted will be able to go about making their goals become reality by kicking off their project’s operations. Usually, the project starts with help from the funder, which includes support pertaining to HR, finance, IT, marketing, and legal situations. However, after that grace period, a project needs to move to a more sustainable, long-term arrangement. Often, the project leaders will make sure that things run smoothly, so it is paramount that the right project leaders are chosen. Faculty and staff appointments, who often have other obligations, are expected to work on growing and developing the project, publishing about it, presenting it at various meetings, and ensuring that enough community support is received (Skinner & Drummond, 2022).
The tasks required by projects that seek to become sustainable are not easy. There are many administrative and hosting models that work differently depending on the team’s buildup. With all these options and concerns in mind, project leaders may find themselves wondering what the best way to proceed with making their project sustainable is. One way is to simply stay completely put, depending on institutional support. Some academic institutions provide long-term hosting arrangements for such projects, but this is not the case with all institutions. Committing to such a relationship is not always easy, as multi-year agreements are required with the institution and there are many logistics to consider (Skinner & Drummond, 2022).
Sometimes, as a project develops, it might make sense to affiliate with a new nonprofit or academic host that is driven by the same mission that guides the project. With a now well-founded framework for the project’s operations, making the switch to a new institution may be simpler. This is because the relationship with the new institution is likely to resemble the previous one. Another common method that involves affiliating with a different institution is becoming a program within an existing nonprofit membership organization. This method reduces administrative overhead by using shared services, such as invoicing and marketing. However, there are risks that are involved with this method, such as user confusion over the identity of the project and competition with other member-based organizations within the same organization (Skinner & Drummond, 2022).
In recent times, specialized nonprofit organizations have spurred with missions that focus on helping with the administrative and legal tasks that are required when running a program. These programs often provide shared back-office services and are structured in a way that the project’s members are able to drive governance and strategy (Skinner & Drummond, 2022).
Finally, some projects take the path of filing with federal offices to become independent organizations that can facilitate payroll, financial payments, and tax filings. This can be done in multiple ways, as some projects may incorporate as social enterprises that commit to generating returns for the public good and key stakeholders, join small-business incubator programs, or find a nonprofit (Skinner & Drummond, 2022).
This series was created to help guide researchers in their journey of applying for and receiving grants or funds. The series starts from the very start, thinking about what the researcher wants the project to be, all the way to our concluding blog, which discusses long-term, sustainable project planning. You can read the previous blogs in this series by visiting the blog page.
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