Unit 7 Section 7.3: Determining Which Efforts to Continue

Before deciding what programs, interventions or activities to continue or discontinue, it is important to have a clear picture of the work your partnership is currently engaged in as well as any future commitments and obligations.

Your partnership may want to establish criteria for deciding whether or not to continue an activity. It is important that your partnership comes up with criteria that partners agree are important and relevant. When designing and using the criteria, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Do not select more than 3-5 criteria or the process may be too cumbersome.

  • Choose response options that are as simple as possible while still giving meaningful information (e.g. yes/no/unknown; 1-5).

  • Recognize that data may need to be gathered to inform the analysis.

  • Recognize that this may be a very difficult process. The partnership may not want to admit that something hasn’t “worked” or that discontinuing an activity may have negative repercussions (e.g., staff layoffs).

  • Recognize that there are many factors that may influence a final decision. However, using a set of criteria to analyze your options will ensure a more informed and transparent decision.

If the partnership decides to continue an activity, it will be beneficial to consider the following questions about the justification for continuing it:

  • What results have we achieved that justify continuing this effort?

  • To whom is this effort important and do we have their commitment to finding resources for this effort?

  • What cost effectiveness (or other financial justification) can we document for this effort?

  • What resources are needed to continue this effort? What are possible sources of resources? What are strategies for future resource stability?

If the partnership determines that some or all activities will not be continued, it may be worth looking into other ways to continue them outside of the partnership. For example, by:

  • Transferring the Effort to Others: The partnership might find an organization outside of the partnership to continue the activity. The disadvantage of transferring the effort this way is that it may not allow for capacity building of and ownership by the partners themselves.

  • Institutionalize the Effort into a Partner Organization: The partnership supports or plans so that the activity is incorporated into existing community partner organizations or programs.

  • Changing policies: Activities may be sustained through changes in rules, regulations, and laws.

If none of the potential strategies above pan out, is important to not just abandon the activity abruptly. Complete the necessary steps to close out the activity. This may include documenting what was done, completing the evaluation, writing the final report, and helping any staff or “clients” transition to other positions. Refer to Unit 7, Section 7.5 read more about things to consider if the partnership itself decides not to continue.

Example 7.3.1: Potential Criteria for Determining Which Efforts to Continue


  • Has evaluation found this activity to be successful?

  • Has there been an improvement in the way partners work together as a result of this effort?

  • Has there been, or will there soon be, a measurable improvement in community health?

  • Are there other ways these improvements can be achieved?

  • Does this effort helps prevent problems in the community?

  • Has this activity resulted in improvements in health-promoting policy?

  • Is there evidence of increased community capacity to deal with the issues involved with this activity?

  • Do the potential benefits (short term and long term) justify the cost of doing the work?

  • What are the potential effects of not sustaining this activity?

Resources needed

  • Is this activity filling a niche that is not being filled by another group within the community?

  • Are there any other efforts in the community that complement or duplicate these activities?

  • Has the partnership been able to leverage additional resources (money, services, donations, etc.) through this effort?

  • Is it likely that we will be able to secure additional funding or resources to support this activity?

  • Is this partnership the best group to continue doing this work?

  • Do we have the capacity to continue this work?

  • Are there individuals in this partnership willing to carry out the work?

Broad community support

  • Does the community support the effort?

  • Do key decision-makers support the effort?

  • Are individuals within the community able to identify specific accomplishments/ activities that we have conducted?

  • What will the community reaction be to having something “taken away”?

Still a need

  • Does this effort helps meet a long-term community goal?

  • Is the issue(s) addressed by this effort still a community need?

  • Will discontinuing this activity have a negative impact on the community and/or population served?

  • Is this issue/problem worth devoting our resources to, relative to other issues/problems in the community?

Center for Civic Partnerships. Sustainability Toolkit: 10 Steps for Maintaining your Community Improvements. Copyright Public Health Institute 2001. Sustainability Toolkit materials reprinted with the permission of the Public Health Institute