Topic 1: Measuring financial sustainability in a non-profit organisation

In the previous module, you learned about financial Sustainability. Although critical, financial sustainability is only one aspect of an organisation’s overall sustainability. Many people equate an organisation’s sustainability with its financial success, but financial sustainability alone becomes insufficient over time.

If an organisation does not develop its overall capacities ultimately the lack of good management or technical capacity prevents the organisation from generating revenue or attracting donor funding.

To maintain your NGO’s service delivery, it’s important to target these three types of sustainability:

  • Organisational Sustainability: Organisational sustainability refers to an organisation’s ability to continue operations, fulfil its mission, and achieve its long-term objectives over time. It has several dimensions, including financial, programmatic, environmental, and social sustainability. Organisational sustainability entails effectively managing resources, increasing resilience to external shocks, adapting to changing circumstances, and maintaining relevance and impact. Sustainable organisations invest in capacity building, stakeholder engagement, and strategic planning to meet current needs while conserving resources for future generations.
  • The Sustainability of Services: Service sustainability refers to a service or program’s ability to consistently and reliably meet the needs of its intended beneficiaries over time. It entails ensuring that services remain accessible, effective, and relevant even when external factors such as funding constraints, policy changes, or demographic shifts affect service delivery. Sustainable services are intended to be scalable, adaptable, and responsive to changing demands and circumstances. Diversifying funding sources, forming partnerships, and evaluating programme outcomes are all strategies that organisations can use to improve the sustainability of their services.
  • Financial Sustainability: Financial sustainability refers to an organisation’s ability to generate and manage financial resources in a way that supports ongoing operations, programmes, and initiatives while ensuring long-term viability. It entails balancing revenue and expenses, controlling cash flow, and keeping enough reserves to cover contingencies and future investments. Financially sustainable organisations have a diverse funding base, strong financial management practices, and prudent risk management strategies. They prioritise resource allocation, revenue generation, and cost-effectiveness in order to maintain stability, resilience, and the ability to weather economic downturns. Financial sustainability is critical for organisations to fulfil their mission, make an impact, and sustain their operations over time.

Achieving and maintaining these three types of sustainability is crucial for ensuring the continuity and success of your NGO’s service delivery. By focusing on these areas, you can create a resilient foundation that supports your mission and enables you to adapt to changing circumstances.

As you work towards balancing environmental, social, and financial sustainability, you will position your organisation to thrive and continue making a meaningful impact on the communities you serve.

Factors Influencing Sustainability

A variety of factors contribute significantly to an organisation’s sustainability. These include the operational environment, regional and national politics, policy dynamics, peer organisation actions, workforce availability, and a variety of other factors.

Understanding the complex interplay of these influences is critical because it allows organisations to anticipate and effectively navigate changes in their external environment. Such foresight allows them to consistently secure adequate resources, ensuring that their clients’ needs are met on an ongoing basis.

It is critical to recognise that sustainability manifests on a spectrum, with organisations displaying varying levels of resilience. Each entity starts from a different perspective, with its own set of strengths to leverage and weaknesses to address. Organisations can strengthen their sustainability by identifying areas for enhancement and improvement.

Measuring Financial Sustainability

Financial stability and growth are monitored by three measures: Net income, Liquidity and Solvency. The following infographic illustrates each of these measures in detail, highlighting their significance. Let’s dive in.

Net income, liquidity, and solvency are critical financial indicators that provide valuable information about an NGO’s financial health and stability. 

By analysing these metrics, you can assess your profitability, ability to meet short-term obligations, and the ability to cover long-term debts. Monitoring and managing these indicators effectively is critical for achieving financial sustainability and resilience, allowing your NGO to navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and fulfil your mission over time.

Your NGO can use the insights gained from this infographic to make informed decisions, allocate resources strategically, and improve their overall financial position.

Here’s to creating a financially healthy and sustainable future for your organisation!


Now it’s time to measure your NGOs financial sustainability. The following self-assessment tool is intended to assist you in evaluating key aspects of your organisation’s financial stability, identifying strengths, and pinpointing areas for improvement. 


  • Download the word document below.
  • Reflect on your organisation’s financial practices and answer the series of questions in the word document as accurately as possible.

By answering these questions, you’ll gain valuable insights to enhance your strategic decision-making and chart a path to greater sustainability. Let us start the journey to secure your NGOs financial future together. 

No worries if you don’t know every metric; simply write down your own opinion.

By completing this self-assessment, you are taking an important step towards strengthening your organisation’s financial foundation and securing its future. Your honest reflections and answers will provide you with the insights needed to guide strategic decisions and implement meaningful improvements.

Remember, this journey is one of continuous learning and growth, and your active participation is the first step. Let’s embark on this path together to ensure a brighter, more sustainable future for your NGO. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to your organisation’s success!