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SAMHSA News - July/August 2008, Volume 16, Number 4


Strategies To Sustain Community Programs

Toolkit Available for Grassroots, Faith-Based Providers

By Kristin Blank

How can a small, nonprofit community organization with a barebones budget and a staff of volunteers ensure that it survives the next fiscal year to continue supporting people in crisis?

A new toolkit from SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), Sustaining Grassroots Community-Based Programs: A Toolkit for Community- and Faith-Based Service Providers, offers strategies to:

  • Manage a healthy budget.

  • Improve client services.

  • Maintain funding and quality of services.

  • Evaluate program results.

  • Market services effectively.

These key elements and others were developed from 20 training and technical assistance meetings conducted by CSAT staff to help grassroots organizations achieve long-term, stable success for their much-needed programs.

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Planning for Success

The toolkit, designed specifically to help service providers, includes fill-in-the-blank planning templates and removable worksheets.

Offering success stories from around the country, the toolkit is organized into six how-to booklets. Each booklet provides practical, step-by-step information in an easy-to-use format.

  • Introduction gives an overview of strategic planning processes, describing key components, such as a mission statement, goals and objectives, and a budget. Worksheets include a sustainability action plan.

  • Organizational Assessment and Readiness provides a self-assessment tool to help providers identify specific challenges and develop solutions. According to the booklet, an assessment is a critical starting point for initiating change and identifying improvements.

  • Effective Marketing Strategies delivers basic information about marketing principles, methods, communication, and resources. Providers will learn about advertising, brochures, Web sites, and other ways to spread the word about their work.

  • Financial Management provides guidance on accountability and managing other people’s money to maintain public trust. Several handouts are provided, including a request for payment and a sample billing statement.

  • Sustainability Strategies: Fund Development and Fund Raising is the longest section of the toolkit and addresses basic elements of effective fundraising and developing relationships with partners and donors. A handout helps providers enhance their entrepreneurial spirit.

  • Results-Oriented Evaluations describes the purpose, necessity, and worth of analyzing performance. Handouts include a checklist for planning the evaluation as well as a worksheet that helps providers clarify what each program is trying to accomplish.

Sustaining Grassroots Community-Based Programs: A Toolkit for Community- and Faith-Based Service Providers is available in one convenient PDF file. Download the toolkit at http://download.ncadi.samhsa.gov/prevline/pdfs/SMA08-4340.pdf.

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