When the term ‘sustainable’ is mentioned, many people immediately think of environmental conservation and recyclable goods. However, sustainable development encompasses a much broader concept. In essence, sustainability refers to the ability to maintain and continue something indefinitely, without a time limit.
Sustainable development therefore refers to a type of development that is self-sustaining. This is a core pillar of successful non-for-profit organisations that have helped to make systemic positive changes across the world. It focuses on empowering communities to address issues rather than providing support in a way that keeps communities dependent.
For philanthropic organisations, sustainability is not just a desirable quality to have, but an essential one. Unfortunately, some well-intentioned charities falter in this regard. While their aim of providing support to the disenfranchised is noble, it is crucial to do so in a sustainable manner that empowers communities, or else it can have some negative side effects. First things first, benefactors must build contacts from within the community and seek to properly understand the issues affecting it with all its complexities.
Communities can inadvertently become dependent on aid if it is not provided in a sustainable way. While this can help in the short term, this dependence can ultimately inhibit the capacity for communities to become self-reliant and thus hamper progress. Therefore, it is vital for philanthropic organisations to consider not just how they are helping in the short-term, but also ways in which they can help empower communities in the long term.
One effective way to invest in sustainable development is by providing education or skill-building opportunities. By investing in education, people can acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to improve their circumstances and give back to the community. This approach not only addresses immediate educational needs but also empowers communities with tools for long-term development.
A fundamental aspect of achieving sustainable development lies in collaboration with communities. By actively engaging community members, you can get a better understanding of complex societal issues, allowing these perspectives to guide the creation of programs that offer sustainable, actionable support.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals serve as a global roadmap for sustainable development, encompassing a wide range of interconnected objectives to achieve a more equitable and environmentally sustainable world. These 17 goals provide a framework for governments and charity organisations to align with, ensuring that their endeavours are sustainable.
When it comes to philanthropy, sustainability is needed for ensuring long-term positive impact. If you are passionate about philanthropy but unsure where to start with sustainable development, get in touch with the Partners in Progress Foundation. Our team is dedicated to implementing sustainable development practices and empowering communities for lasting change.
Partners In Progress wishes to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work and gather. We pay respect to Elders – past, present and emerging – and recognise their ongoing connection to this beautiful country, with knowledge and stories that have been handed down since time immemorial.