Step 5 outlines what your community team needs to maintain momentum.

Sustainable health initiatives are those that maintain their benefits to communities for years to come. Thinking about ways to sustain initiatives can start in the beginning of the planning process. Celebrating your team’s accomplishments along the way is an incredible motivator to keep up the good work.

Planning for sustainability

Thinking about sustainability at the outset helps prepare for future responsibilities, as well as the allocation of resources and commitments within the collaborative team. Being open about future participation from the start helps build trusting relationships. Recognizing the natural ebb and flow of community work is important for long-term sustainability.

The following strategies can help when planning for sustainability:

  • Develop a long-term community vision with clear roles, expectations, and timelines. Building community change takes time. 
  • Build trusting relationships and shared ownership – Everyone on the team has skills, connections, and resources to contribute.  Take time to uncover them and engage members in their areas of expertise.  Be genuine, ask questions and be open about everyone being equal.
  • Be flexible – Be open and adaptable to members coming and going, changes to the plans and evolving as you implement activities.
  • Show value or impact – Quick wins show short-term success and create momentum.  Celebrate milestones.

Planning for sustainability roadmap

Improve and share

Your community has invested passion, time and resources to achieve valued goals. Express thanks and communicate regularly with all those involved. Keep track of partnership activities and accomplishments. Be flexible and open to change.  Learning from experience helps shape future action planning. It’s about tweaking something good to make it even better.

Collecting and highlighting information on activities, outcomes, partnerships and/or policy changes is a great way to inspire other communities to get involved. Sharing success stories is a powerful way to spread the word about your work. Also, sharing your story can show impact, acknowledge appreciation to those involved and reflect on successes and challenges. Read more stories here.

Sharing learning and successes is essential:

  • Fosters ongoing engagement
  • Promotes knowledge transfer
  • Shows accountability
  • Leverages results

Words to inspire

Complex community issues can be addressed effectively when groups work together on a common goal.

Working together to plan your project and make decisions can strengthen relationships. Tapping into community assets that already exist and building on these strengths will ensure resources are used optimally, and there are opportunities for meaningful contribution.

The Alberta Healthy Community Approach is intended for all people who desire to work together to create physical places and social spaces that promote health and well-being for all. Cancer Prevention and Screening Innovation (CPSI) has compiled the Approach and 5 steps into a practical guide for download and use in your community!

Community Stories

View all stories
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Healthy Communities Program, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, & Division of Adult and Community Health. (2012). A sustainability planning guide for healthy communities. (). US: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
  2. Luque, J., Tyson, D. M., Lee, J. H., Gwede, C., Vadaparampil, S., Noel-Thomas, S., & Meade, C. (2010). Using social network analysis to evaluate community capacity building of a regional community cancer network.38, 656-668.
  3. Ramanadhan, S., Salhi, C., Achille, E., Baril, N., D'Entremont, K., Grullon, M., . . . Savage, C. (2012). Addressing cancer disparities via community network mobilization and intersectoral partnerships: A social network analysis. PLoS One, 7(2), e32130.
  4. Alberta Health Services. (2014). Comprehensive School Health: Celebrate and Share your Successes. Retrieved from Alberta: http://www.alberta­
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Road to Better Health: A Guide to Promoting Cancer Prevention in Your Community. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2012
  6. Kegler, M. C., Norton, B. L., & Aronson, R. (2007). Skill improvement among coalition members in the California healthy cities and communities program. Health Education Research, 22(3), 450-457. doi:cyl109 [pii]
  7. Fawcett, S. B., Collie-Akers, V., Schultz, J. A., & Cupertino, P. (2013). Community-based participatory research within the latino health for all coalition. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 41(3), 142-154.
  8. Gathering Perspectives Report
  9. Cormac Russel. Managing Director of Nurture Development, a leading Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD)
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