What is Operational Sustainability and Why is it Important to Nonprofits? 3 Reasons Operational Sustainability Should Matter to a Donor

Report
from Live Beyond
Published on 15 May 2019

Operational Sustainability in an Unstable Country

Haiti has had a Level 4: Do Not Travel Advisory from the US State Department since mid-February due to civil unrest in Port-au-Prince and other high-population areas. Thomazeau has been largely untouched by the civil unrest, but, because of the travel advisory, LiveBeyond has evacuated all American personnel to the United States until the advisory lowers to a level 3.

Dr. David Vanderpool and his wife Laurie, the co-founders of the organization have made short trips to Haiti to ensure that everything is running while the American staff has been out of the country.

The exciting news?

Everything at the LiveBeyond base is running…well. Maybe even better than expected.
The maternal health program nurses continue to serve the 250 women currently enrolled in the program, utilizing the electronic medical records to track patient history. The demonstration farm workers have added to the nursery and brought in hundreds of pounds of produce in the past few weeks. Food deliveries continue, providing meals for ~3,000 school children each day. And the LiveBeyond school is being run with efficiency, thanks to the management and administration of trained educational staff.

These LiveBeyond programs are currently being run by LiveBeyond’s staff members who have accepted the training, wisdom and responsibility from the trained professionals who started the program and are fulfilling the requirements and goals set for their programs.

That’s called operational sustainability. And that means that the model LiveBeyond has been working toward since entering Haiti in 2010 is successful.

3 Reasons Operational Sustainability Should Matter to You

  1. Who better to transform a country than its own people?

Most people acknowledge that the white savior complex and similar ideologies have done more damage in the developing world than anyone foresaw. But when a nonprofit like LiveBeyond reaches operational sustainability by employing indigenous people to carry out programs and offer services in their own community, that means that these local professionals are empowered through education and training to meet the needs of those in their community. And who better to reach the person next door than, well, the person next door?

  1. The money you donate is going to a system that works.

When a nonprofit is operationally sustainable, especially in conditions like these, when the country itself is so unstable, that means that the donors’ money is working to the best of its ability. Your support is crucial to the continuation of the mission and it removes one level of stress from the leadership so that they can focus on the work that needs to be done.

  1. Operational Sustainability means that the mission can transform not just the local village, but the entire nation.

National leaders in developing countries are often looking for solutions to the problems faced by their constituents. But they don’t tend to trust people who haven’t proven themselves. When organizations like LiveBeyond reach operational sustainability, local and national leaders know they can trust these organizations to partner with them on issues – and their impact zones grow from these partnerships. And that means that more lives are changed.

Dr. David Vanderpool, a trauma surgeon specializing in tropical medicine for the developing world, is the president and CEO of LiveBeyond, a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to providing sustainable solutions for poverty in Thomazeau, Haiti.