In a recent members-only webinar, we looked at Cluster sustainability and focused on ways we can make our Clusters sustainable in order to serve our communities over long periods of time. Here’s 8 things we learned…
Cluster sustainability refers to Clusters being able to maintain themselves, their projects, operations and services over a projected period of time. It is a Cluster’s ability to withstand the changing social, economic and political contexts for the sake of the members and those who are served by the Cluster.
A Cluster is able to sustain its projects if it is financially stable and not being threatened with closure. This can happen if a cluster has proper planning strategies in place, good governance and effective leadership. It is only then that a cluster can develop and retain programmes that benefit the community over long periods of time. In order to make our Clusters sustainable, we have to:
Create and develop a reliable team and partnerships. If you have a reliable team, you can delegate responsibilities and trust that each member will play their role effectively. It is important to give your team responsibilities based on their skills and capacity. Involving key stakeholders and building partnerships even with people outside your Cluster is important because you can share strengths, skills and experiences.
Regularly evaluate projects/activities. Through Monitoring and evaluation, you can look at your work to understand how you are progressing as a Cluster and if you are making any impact. Capture stories so that you can measure success and encourage your fellow Cluster members and the community.
Build capacity of trustees, staff and volunteers. Train your team and equip them with skills so that they can be effective as they serve the community. If you equip your team, then you can also grow to do other things and trust that you have left capable people to continue with the work you started.
Communicate effectively. Good communication is important because it ensures that everybody is on the same page. Cluster members should always keep an eye open to what is communicated to them in social platforms like WhatsApp. Avoid forwarding spam messages as these make it difficult to notice key messages. Trustees and staff should also communicate the Cluster profile to the outside world so that the presence of the Cluster is felt in the community. This can open good financial and partnership opportunities.
Diversify your funding base. Finances are essential to running a successful programme. Most times, Clusters depend on donor support but there are more ways that you can gain funds within your Cluster. Some examples of raising funds include charging fees for services, organising fundraising events, seeking support from the government, setting up endowments, having membership fees, seeking in-kind support and starting income generating activities.
Stick to your mission. It is important to focus on your mission and stick to it. When organisations and partners join you, they may want to create a new mission which is different from yours. Stick to your Cluster’s mission and direction so that you can create the change that you want as a Cluster.
Click HERE to read about how you can organise your Cluster well in order to serve others well.