Evidence-based programs rely on funding. And while traditional sources like grants and government allocations remain vital, exploring additional funding avenues can significantly bolster the successful implementation of these programs.

Diversifying funding sources ensures sustainability, scaling, and efficacy in delivering evidence-based programs. And that can foster lasting positive outcomes for communities.

Through survey and conversation, funding emerged as a shared challenge during the  NCOA-led Sustainability Workgroup, comprised of the current ACL Chronic Disease Self-Management Education (CDSME) and Falls Prevention grantees.  Questions arose and solutions were shared among peers to identify what funding opportunities exist and strategies to prepare to approach them.

Tips for finding additional funding

Stay informed and network

It can be helpful to create a streamlined approach to review updates from funding organizations. Make sure to:

  • Monitor relevant platforms to catch announcements in a timely manner—this also includes government agencies, and grant databases 
  • Join newsletters, subscribe to alerts, and engage with professional networks to stay informed about potential opportunities
  • Attend networking events to connect with potential donors, policymakers, and industry partners in your field

By being proactive, you can promptly assess eligibility, align your evidence-based programs with the funding criteria, and submit a well-prepared proposal.

Know your audience and their budget. Best to reach them at beginning of their fiscal year when they are setting their budget and end of the Fiscal Year when they might have unallocated funds to spend.”

Age Options, a 2021 Falls Prevention Grantee, shared their sponsor engagement events as a tool they use to connect. During these events, they bring together current and potential sponsors, have a speaker of interest to draw the invited audience, share a list of partnerships opportunities, and conduct post-event follow up with attendees.

Diversify your search

Explore a variety of funding sources beyond traditional grants. Look into foundations, private donors, corporate sponsorships, and government agencies. Diversifying your search increases the chances of finding compatible funding partners for evidence-based programs implementation.

During the Sustainability Workgroup, grantees shared that they have explored and used these additional funding sources:

  • AmeriCorps Evidence-based Program Planning Grant
  • Health Resource Services Administration (HRSA) Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (Special Innovations Project)
  • State Department of Health
  • Title III-D funding (Older Americans Act)
  • University Collaboration
  • Philanthropies
  • Insurance companies
  • Community investment funds from managed care organizations (MCOs)​
  • Contracts with payers

“Leadership brought in a consulting agency (pro bono rate) to do an audit and assessment of funding streams across our division to assess different areas or sectors we could seek funding outside of federal funding opportunities to help support programs (foundation founding, local grants, etc.). This was done this winter, with an expected report to be presented in June/July.​” --Health Promotion Council of Southeastern PA, 2020 CDSME Grantee

Build strong partnerships

Collaborate with other organizations, community groups, or institutions that share a common interest in the impact of evidence-based programs. By forming strong partnerships, you can learn about additional funding opportunities and resources. Grantees shared that some examples of partnerships they feel have been the most instrumental in the sustainability of their evidence-based programs are senior centers, state departments, local Area Agencies on Aging, and universities. Joint applications often stand out and demonstrate a collaborative commitment to program success.  Work with potential partners and collaborators to clearly define roles on projects and secure documentation of commitment. This could include Letters of Support, Letters of Commitment, and Memoranda of Understanding.

Some grantees have pursued becoming a part of or forming a Community Care Hub that organizes and supports a network of community-based organizations by centralizing operational infrastructure and administrative responsibilities.

Be sure that partners understand their roles, don’t make them a checkmark.”
--Pennsylvania Department on Aging, 2021 CDSME Grantee

Customize proposals

Create a well thought out strategy before applying for grant funding for evidence-based program implementation. Begin by thoroughly researching the grant requirements and aligning your proposal with the funding organization’s objectives. Clearly articulate the goals, outcomes, mission, purpose, and impact of your programs. Develop a detailed budget and realistic timeline. Showcase sustainability of your program beyond the grant period, emphasizing long term impact. A strategic, comprehensive approach enhances your chances of securing funding and ensures a solid foundation for successful program implementation.  Assess the impact and success of the current programming. Demonstrate this by sharing compelling data, testimonials, and outcomes. Utilize tools like a value proposition to display the potential long-term impact that potential funders can have on the community.

“Using analytics to determine the types of programs that yield the greatest return (e.g., total people served, total completers) for the resources dedicated to implementing that program.  This helps to identify the resources (and associated costs) necessary in order to be successful in meeting the contract requirements." --Partners in Care Foundation, 2020 Falls Prevention Grantee

“Read the entire application multiple times. If you know the time of year a grant is being announced start preparing for it before it is announced.” --Pennsylvania Deparment on Aging, 2021 CDSME Grantee

Develop a grant application process

Begin by thoroughly researching the grant requirements and guidelines. Break down the application into smaller tasks, such as drafting the proposal, developing a budget, and gathering supporting documents. Clearly assign responsibilities to team members based on their expertise, ensuring collaboration and efficiency. Set clear deadlines for each task to stay on track and avoid last-minute rushes. Take into consideration external deadlines as well as the amount of time estimated to complete each task. 

Regularly review and monitor progress to be able to make adjustments as needed. Prepare a proposal library with easily retrievable key narratives.  This includes organizational charts, biographical sketches, and lists of measurable program achievements and outcomes. A well-organized process not only streamlines the grant application, but also enhances the quality and completeness of the submission.

"The short version: a grant is posted, individual programs have to get approval from executive leaders and buy-in from partners for the application, we propose a budget that both leadership and stakeholders have to approve, and then program staff apply. We have an application management process among our team that works well, it typically involves a timeline, assignments, and weekly meetings/updates. We now start about 6 months prior to the application's publication date the best we can. The earlier we know about a grant Notice of Funding Opportunity, the better.” --Utah Department of Health and Human Services, 2022 CDSME Grantee

We parse our work based on the program that is applying for the funding. Typically, finance completes the budget, the director does the writing, and the Executive Director does the final review and editing. The director is responsible for the final submission and timeline management.”
--Rhode Island Parent Information Network, 2022 CDSME Grantee

“We take a team approach and assign various components (budget, workplan, activities, objectives, background) to different team members based on the grant topic and subject area/project proposed. Weekly, if not more frequent meetings to ensure the timeline is being met and abided to occur. Once a proposal is finished, it is reviewed internally by both Executive Director and Senior Director for clarity and final edits prior to submission. We also have a dedicated Administrative team member who assists with gathering any additional forms and formatting everything for submission.” --Health Promotion Council of Southeastern PA, 2020 CDSME Grantee

When seeking evidence-based program funding, start early

One additional key takeaway that has been shared by peers as a theme during the Sustainability Workgroups is to start early.

Sustainability work can happen in the first grant year. The proactive pursuit of diverse funding streams is vital for the longevity of evidence-based programs. Through strategic planning, partnerships, and resource allocation, grantees can bolster their financial sustainability, fostering continued growth and impact within their communities.

This project was supported, in part by grant numbers 90PPSC0001and 90CSSG0048 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.