“Funding for Sustainability: How Funders’ Practices Influence the Future of Digital Resources” offers an overview of funders’ policies and practices, and provides a framework to assist funders and their grantees in thinking about the key elements of post-grant sustainability planning for digital resources.

Over the past decade, philanthropic organizations and government agencies have invested millions of dollars, pounds, and euros in the creation of digital content in the not-for-profit sector. Their grants have facilitated major digitization efforts and encouraged innovative scholarly work possible only in an online environment. Still, the path from initial grant funding to long-term sustainability of these resources can be challenging.

Ithaka S+R, with generous support from the JISC-led Strategic Content Alliance, interviewed more than 80 individuals, including representatives from more than 25 funding bodies in Europe and North America with a focus on digital resources in the higher education and cultural heritage sectors.  Through a year-long research process, Ithaka S+R observed a rich range of sustainability planning activities, but also identified areas for improvement in the funding process that are valuable to both funders and grant seekers.  The report also offers funders and project leaders a high-level process for working together at the proposal stage to set plans for post-grant sustainability.


Advisory Committee

  • Dr. Fay Bound Alberti is a senior policy advisor for the Arcadia Fund. She is a cultural historian who has researched and published works in the histories of medicine, and science and society. She is also a senior research fellow at Queen Mary University of London, and her most recent book, Matters of the Heart: History, Medicine and Emotion, was published by Oxford University Press in 2010. She is invited regularly to give public lectures for organizations such as the Wellcome Trust and the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS), of which she also is a member.
  • Dr. William H. Dutton is the president of the Oxford Internet Institute, an academic center for the study of the internet’s impact on society, and he is also the principal investigator of the Oxford e-Social Science Project.  Previously he was a professor at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication.
  • Caroline Kimbell is head of licensing at The National Archives of England and Wales, with responsibility for the digitization program. After ten years as head of commissioning outside America for academic publisher Thomson Gale, Caroline joined the National Archives in 2006 and manages licensed partnerships in the genealogy, academic, and grant-funded sectors. This program has put over 80 million documents online to date, and currently sees a ratio of online to physical document use of 200:1.
  • Dr. Rufus Pollock is a Mead fellow in Economics at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, and a director of the Open Knowledge Foundation, which he co-founded in 2004. He has worked extensively as a scholar, coder, and activist on the technological, social, and legal issues surrounding access and sharing of knowledge.
  • Nick Poole is chief executive of Collections Trust, an independent UK charity that works with libraries, archives, and museums and engages in advocacy, promotes best practices, encourages innovation, and represents the interests of its sector.  He is a trustee of CILIP and the Museums Association and represents the UK at the Member States Experts Group for Digitisation at the European Commission. In his roles as chair of the UK branch of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and as chair of the Europeana Council of Content Providers and Aggregators, he is responsible for advising a number of European agencies and Governments on digital priorities in culture and libraries. He is regularly invited to speak to audiences in the UK and worldwide on issues relating to the professional management of collections.
  • Sarah Porter is head of the Innovation Group at the Joint Information Services Committee (JISC), which works closely with colleges and universities to carry out action research as well as to develop advice, products, and services.  Sarah has worked in the higher education sector for the last fifteen years, in a variety of institutional and national roles. Her particular interest is in how technology can enhance the day-to-day business of education and research; in particular the central importance of technology users, institutional processes and practices, and education’s broader political and cultural context.
  • Simon Tanner is founding director of the King’s Digital Consultancy Service, a consulting arm of King’s College London that provides research, training, and business development services in the digital and information domains, and founder and leader of the Digital Futures Academy for managers on creating, delivering, and sustaining digital resources. Tanner has over twenty years of experience as a problem solver and leader in the information and digital domain.

Sustainability Planning Tool