Long-term sustainability is the capacity of a system to continue delivering the same products and services over an extended period of time. In this piece, we examine how this may be accomplished in several industries.
What Is Long-Term Sustainability?
What is the definition of longevity? If you were to pose this question to your board, you may receive a range of responses, such as those listed below:
- Profiting sufficiently from the selling of products and services to be self-sufficient.
- Obtaining unlimited funding for numerous years in a row.
- Investing and diversifying sufficient cash to become self-sufficient.
- Existing in ten years’ time
You may possibly receive a few other diverse replies. Nell Edgington, a pioneering entrepreneur in the field of social transformation, provides perhaps one of the greatest definitions of sustainability.
She describes long-term sustainability thus: “Nonprofit sustainability happens when a nonprofit obtains and successfully utilizes sufficient and the proper kind of funds to meet their long-term end objectives.”
How would your board define long-term sustainability now, in light of the responses provided? If there is any doubt, it’s advisable to place the issue on your board’s agenda and begin discussing it so that you may be assured that your organization continues to have the desired impact.
Example Of long-term sustainability
The simplest type of long-term sustainability is best illustrated by a simple example: if a logging firm cuts down all the trees within its range, it will go out of business due to a shortage of raw materials.
The regeneration of trees and maintenance of cutting zones must be included in the cost of the business as an investment in the company’s future in order to maintain its viability. The firm secures its supply by assuring a sustainable wood source.
Understanding Long-term sustainability
When contemplating how the resources of one firm might impact the resources of another, sustainability over the long run becomes more complicated.
If, as a result of clear-cutting trees, the logging firm eliminates riparian vegetation, so harming streams and wiping out river ecosystems, the freshwater fishing sector might suffer.
The tourism business might suffer if freshwater fisherman construct unattractive and polluting fish farms along a popular shoreline. Long-term viability necessitates a holistic perspective about the consequences of conducting company.
Regulatory measures are frequently ambiguous and open to change, which is one of the fundamental issues with the notion. A logging business may invest in the replanting of white pine for the future, only to have a regulatory agency determine in 20 years that white pine cannot be harvested.
Long-term sustainability investment entails a certain degree of risk, but proponents claim that this risk may be mitigated by immediately implementing sustainable practices.
By demonstrating a company’s commitment to safeguarding resources and conducting business ethically, its owners have a greater chance of being invited to participate in or advised by regulatory bodies that will govern future business practices.
Long-term sustainability implies that, at the most fundamental level, human beings are the most important resource.
A firm will perish regardless of how many trees are planted if there are no consumers. Global warming poses a significant danger to business, since it has the ability to disrupt infrastructure and devastate traditionally fertile regions of the earth.
Companies strive to provide a lucrative and sustainable business environment by creating a livable and sustainable environment for humans.
What Are the Challenges with Long-Term Sustainability?
In light of the significance of long-term sustainability, let’s examine some of the obstacles that make it so difficult.
- Many communities are home to several tiny nonprofit organizations that compete for limited resources.
- Large non-profits can become mired down by bureaucracy, preventing them from successfully resolving issues.
- Some NGOs commit the error of doing too many initiatives at once, so hindering their ability to advance.
- In certain instances, nonprofit boards’ goals and priorities are dispersed, making it impossible to make progress on any of them.
- Government and philanthropic funding is scarce and competitive. Some boards spend too much time pursuing monies that are unlikely to be obtained.
- Board members with extensive tenure are not always inclined to welcome change. Even when there is no obvious usefulness, they are unwilling to discontinue long-standing initiatives and activities.
- Board members insist on avoiding risks and, as a result, operate too leanly to be effective.
Your board may overcome these and other issues that threaten the long-term viability of your nonprofit organization if it focuses on the proper areas and takes steps to increase its efforts.
The Right Steps for Ensuring Long-Term Sustainability
Defining long-term sustainability and identifying obstacles are positive starts in the right path. The next stages are to determine which areas are most useful to concentrate on, how to give the issue scope, and how to establish a realistic strategy for long-term sustainability.
Focus on the following four crucial aspects to simplify the situation:
- Financial stability
- Leadership succession planning
- Strategic planning
Examine the following particular strategies for ensuring sustainability within these areas.
Your nonprofit organization must produce value for the individuals it serves if it is to be viable. Consider the following indications that your organization is providing value to individuals it serves:
- Your board understands the intended impact of your organization.
- You are aware of who gains directly from your efforts.
- You are aware of your organization’s indirect and long-term advantages.
- You have an image of what success entails.
- You have a method for evaluating success.
Find the Right Donors and Financial Supporters
Many individuals and companies donate to their favorite charity. One of your objectives should be to discover contributors and supporters who are vested in the job you’re doing and to persuade them to offer their dollars, time, or vital contacts.
These are the funders most likely to sustain their support of your nonprofit’s efforts over time. Here are some examples of goals to pursue:
- Corporations, foundations, and people who have the same beneficiary.
- There are a variety of organizations and individuals that wish to be affiliated with your nonprofit organization.
- Businesses or organizations whose goal, duties, or industry your cause contributes to and who are willing to work with your board.
Invest time in community mapping as part of your process of strategic planning. This should be a continuous endeavor. Gather information on your present assets and requirements. Create a strategy to gain access to any additional resources you may require.
Consider the following examples:
- People (align employees and volunteers who are invested in your efforts)
- Physical structures
Donors and Funders
Increase your familiarity with your funders and supporters. Here are the pertinent details:
- What topics they prioritize.
- The manner in which they divide their resources.
- When allocating monies.
- Whom they may be able to introduce you to.
Without internet assistance, it is practically difficult for organizations to achieve success and sustainability.
The appropriate digital tools will assist you in developing a sustainable brand, attracting donations, and enhancing your nonprofit’s reputation. Here are a few suggestions for enhancing your web presence:
- Maintain your website’s currency and freshness.
- Use social media to disseminate information.
- Create a button for online donations.
- Recruit volunteers on your website.
- Send promotional content via email, web marketing, newsletters, and even SMS (be sure to comply with anti-spam laws).
- Invest in a board management system, such as BoardEffect, to save your vital papers, generate board books, manage your board cycles, securely share data, and improve communication, among other features.
It is possible to achieve long-term sustainability. It does not have to be a wish or dream that is implausible. It needs a professional, results-driven, agile, and flexible board that is dedicated to utilizing the appropriate digital technologies in order to bring their vision to reality.
Your organization has the capacity to make a substantial impact if everything comes together.
In their Harvard Business Review article, “The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability,” sustainable business authorities Tensie Whelan and Carly Fink explain that “sustainable businesses are redefining the corporate ecosystem by designing models that create value for all stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, supply chains, civil society, and the planet.”
“A business with a sustainable strategy is better equipped to predict and respond to economic, social, environmental, and regulatory changes as they occur,” they say.
The environment is the most obvious of the difficulties Whelan and Fink explore when discussing sustainability.
Environmental dangers, some of which may be averted by resource conservation and others of which are acts of God, will always pose a challenge to production and distribution capacities. According to Whelan and Fink, companies that implement sustainable practices will be better prepared to meet these issues.
For instance, water usage, like in the case of California Dairies, is a significant environmental issue, particularly in drought-prone regions.
Developing and implementing water conservation techniques that are more efficient may make a business more sustainable over the long term while also benefiting the environment.
A corporation that want to implement ecologically sustainable policies, methods, and resources should create a framework for assessing sustainability initiatives.
State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) has created standards for adopting sustainable practices into a company’s long-term strategy in order to facilitate this process. The SSGA’s framework includes three questions:
- Step 1: Have you recognized business-relevant environmental and social sustainability concerns?
- Step 2: Have you examined these concerns and included them into your long-term strategy?
- Step 3: Have you articulated your approach to sustainability concerns and their impact on strategy?
The methodology may also be used to assess vendors and other companies with whom you may be exploring partnerships or contracts.
Evaluation of suppliers may be crucial for businesses that not only aim to be sustainable but also want to have business partnerships with other sustainable businesses.
Sustainability Beyond the Environment
However, environmental sustainability is not the only factor that companies must consider. For a corporation to be really sustainable, economic and social factors are equally as important as environmental ones.
The ability of employees to earn a livelihood must be accounted for in terms of economic sustainability. The poverty threshold is a significant indicator for all nations, from poor nations to the United States and European Union members.
According to the “Economic Sustainability” article on Thwink.org, the poverty level or threshold in industrialized nations is described as the level of “recommended minimal standard of life.”
As more occupations are mechanized, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to preserve the idea of sustainable national economies, in which employees live above the poverty line. As a result, a growing number of organizations are providing stock options and ownership holdings to their employees.
Economic theorist Eliza Riley writes in “Own the Robots: Turning Citizens Into Masters, Not Victims, of Technology” on the website of the Center for Economic and Social Justice, “Expanding capital ownership would prevent people from being enslaved by the computers that steal their employment.”
Riley says, “there are available tools and feasible ways to provide current and future generations of people an equitable opportunity to get a portion of the endless technological expansion frontier if we think creatively and courageously.”
Moreover, investing in sustainability may provide forward-thinking businesses with new commercial prospects.
According to Robert Ferris’s CNBC article, “Musk Sees Tesla’s Future: Trucks, Transit, and Solar in a Push for Sustainability,” Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk exhibits the notion of market opportunities analysis in the field of sustainability.
Ferris points out that Musk sees sustainability as opportunity. The result is that Musk’s products are designed from their foundation to be fully sustainable.
In fact, Tesla is not only designing electric cars, but also actively improving the production of the factories that make the cars. For Musk, a factory doesn’t just make a product—it is itself a sustainable product, designed to make other sustainable products.
Karin Laljani, managing director of Corporate Citizenship, stated, “We are grateful to the contributing companies for allowing us to learn from their own personal strategic challenges regarding disruption versus linear thinking, demands from society versus those of shareholders, and their own experiences of what makes for success or failure.”
The authors of the research suggest that, in order to establish resilient strategies, senior management teams should situate their organizations within the context of society as a whole. This involves bringing environmental, economic, cultural, social, technical, and political concerns into consideration.
They propose that combining corporate and sustainability strategy is one of the most effective approaches for organizations to achieve this objective.
Even inside big, internationally successful organizations, sustainability teams frequently operate separately from strategic planning teams, and few businesses seek the assistance of external strategy and sustainability specialists, according to the report.
The report also reveals that many organizations do not plan their corporate strategy long enough in advance, with five-year plans being the norm.
The report concludes that organizations should be forward-thinking in order to become market leaders when new trends emerge, and that they should continually alter and evaluate their strategies.
Business executives may also detect possible long-term trends and challenges by emphasizing a holistic approach and allowing sustainability teams and strategy development teams to collaborate closely.
Consistent with the findings of a previous McKinsey Global Survey, the findings of this analysis indicate that organizations struggle to fully integrate corporate sustainability policies into their cultures and reap their advantages.
Following disclosures concerning global warming and decreasing natural resources, the notion of long-term sustainability has acquired tremendous traction in the corporate world.
Long-term sustainability implies, at its most fundamental level, that a corporation will increase its future prospects of existence by ensuring that its resources are handled and maintained properly.
According to a 2010 study by the United Nations, the vast majority of corporate chief executive officers (CEOs) believe that long-term sustainability is a major factor in long term success.
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