Do you think of the word "sustainable" when you think "fatherhood program"? If not, please do. One of the most common things we hear from organizations who run fatherhood programs is that they ran out of funding, or, that it wasn't something they could afford to keep. It wasn't sustainable.
Creating a sustainable fatherhood program from the start is key. Why put all of that effort into something if it's not going to last?
So let's talk sustainability.
Sustainability refers to the long-term ability to keep your fatherhood program alive and thriving. How you plan ahead to keep your program running like a well-oiled (and funded!) machine matters. What's your plan?
From the foundation of the program to ensuring long term funding, a good place to start is to create a logic model. Developing a program requires a process for planning, implementing, and measuring the success of all the organization’s efforts.
A logic model is simply a picture of how your program works. It keeps your goals in view and shows the processes and activities connected to achieving that goal. It is a valuable aid to show potential partners and funders that solid, systematic planning backs your program.
A Logic Model includes the following components:
- Inputs (what we invest)
- Activities (the actual tasks we do)
- Participation (who we serve; customers & stakeholders)
- Engagement (how those we serve engage with the activities)
- Short Term (learning: awareness, knowledge, skills, motivations)
- Medium Term (action: behavior, practice, decisions, policies)
- Long Term (consequences: social, economic, environmental etc.)
The goal of a Logic Model is to help you get started on the "right foot” with your fatherhood program, and help everyone involved understand what’s needed, and where you’re headed.
To learn more about creating your logic model, see Step 5 in our Free eBook, 7 Steps to Creating a Successful Fatherhood Program.
Another way to plan for sustainability is to create a father engagement plan. Here are the 4 steps to creating one:
How will you facilitate an effective planning session? It's tempting to jump right into the strategic planning session without giving enough time and thought to the pre-session design.
You can ask your planning team to answer a series of questions prior to the meeting such as:
- If you were to describe our fatherhood issue in one sentence, what would it be?
- What do you want accomplished when we are done? In general and specifically?
- What could derail this session?
- What are the 3-5 key questions that will crack open our fatherhood issue?
You should use a facilitation process during the session that gets everyone engaged, generates new ideas, and creates consensus on the best ideas to move forward with.
How will you facilitate a shared vision at all levels of your organization? This is a by-product of an effective pre-session design and planning session because staff will already be an active part of the father engagement plan creation.
How will you ensure people follow through on their actions? Once you have brainstormed ideas and established consensus on which ideas to move forward with, the next step during the planning session is to establish a “who/what/when” for each action step. Establish a time to follow up with everyone to get updates on their progress.
How will the plan change as actions are completed or no longer make sense? An effective father engagement plan should be a living and breathing document that changes as actions are completed and new information is available. There are many tools available to assist with this process such as Google Sheets and Google Docs where multiple people can update the same document and see everyone’s changes in real time.
These four keys will ensure that your father engagement plan is a living, breathing document infused with great ideas and accountability crucial for long-term success.
National Fatherhood Initiative’s Father Engagement Experience™ is very popular with agencies and organizations to help them address these four keys.
In closing, please make planning for sustainability a priority. Whether it's with a logic model, father engagement plan, or another approach, creating a sustainable fatherhood program helps ensure that more fathers are engaged with their children over the long term. And that's what really matters.