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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Sustainability vs. Resilience


In our travels and training, we hear a lot of ‘not-for-profit’ people talking about SUSTAINABILITY.

I’ve always struggled with the response to this. The way it was used (and asked for), it really meant, “I wish we had all the money we needed/a huge endowment… so that we wouldn’t have to worry about fundraising.”

I actually found the answer in this month’s ODE magazine. BTW, ODE is for intelligent optimists. I’m definitely an optimist. Just not intelligent.

Editor-In-Chief Jurriaan Kamp provides a huge WOW in his Letter from the Editor. “RESILIENCE is cropping up with increasing frequency as the next step in thinking about SUSTAINABILITY.”

“RESILIENCE is a dynamic concept focused on incorporating inevitable CHANGE. RESILIENCE is about how systems respond and how we can support such responses.”

Kamp goes on to say that “RESILIENCE is very different from SUSTAINABILITY. Sustainable, after all, means ‘capable of being maintained'(!). SUSTAINABILITY features static control. RESILIENCE is about DYNAMIC RESPONSE.”

That’s really GOOD STUFF.

He adds one more thought: “Resilience systems have a capacity to handle disruptions (change) and reorganize themselves while preserving their function, structure and identity.”

Next time somebody starts throwing around the ‘SUSTAINABIITY’ objective… try talking about RESILIENCE.