How do I build a resilient and long-term program?
It is rare for an Indigenous Guardian program to have stable, secure or long-term funding. Sometimes there are funding gaps that must be bridged to keep the program going.
It can be challenging to plan for, invest in, and build capacity for a strong program when you do not know what resources are going to be available from one season or year to the next. However, there are ways to help buffer against this reality and create a stable and resilient environment for your program.
Consider these strategies:
- Develop a strong and enduring vision that guides the program through both lean and well-funded years. See the Building a Vision section.
- Cultivate strong community and partner support behind the vision and the program.
- Diversify funding sources to reduce vulnerability to any one funder.
- Try to build a mix of funding from small project specific grants to multi-year and strategic investments.
- Try to build in some reliable core or unrestricted funding streams that can support a basic or skeleton program year-to-year (i.e. annual fees from tourism operators, fee-for-service contracts, etc.).
- Be aware of the number of very small grants you pursue – they can be labour intensive and not always worth the effort. Where possible, build multi-year budgets and funding requests that can carry your program through a longer cycle of program activity and investment.
- Build a “business case” or “case for support” that outlines the benefits of the program and the return-on-investment it offers to investors. 'Valuing Coastal Guardian Watchmen Programs: A Business Case' and 'Analysis of Current and Future Value of Indigenous Guardian Work in Canada’s Northwest Territories' can help you build your case.
- Seek ways to integrate the information generated by the program into related management discussions and decision-making whenever possible. This will help demonstrate its value, impact, and importance.
- Evaluate and report out on the impact of the program – track where you are having real impact. See 'Evaluating your Program' section for ideas.
- Share the success and impact stories behind every initiative, project, grant, etc. and build support, recognition, trust, and interest on the strength each of these.
- Build a base of private individuals that support your program. Communicate regularly with them and don’t be afraid to ask for financial support when needed.
- Consider developing partnerships with membership-driven non-profit organizations that can support your work.