From Large-Scale Initiatives: Lessons and Insights from a National Scan of Philanthropy

by Hanh Cao Yu; Moninder-Mona K. Jhawar

Apr 1, 2017

Exiting from an initiative is an inevitable part of philanthropy. Yet the process is too often treated as an afterthought, and funders rarely devote enough time to planning for and working through the tensions and issues that arise. Pointing to a lack of consistency around exit planning, Jaffe and Mackinnon (2007) write, "Exiting tends to be regarded as something discrete and separate, a phase in the life of a grant or program that is fundamentally different from what comes before" (p. 2).

Among the studies on foundation exits, research tends to focus on how funders can exit from specific grants or programs (Association of Charitable Foundations, 2012; Kerhoven & Herweijer, 2013). A few focus on strategies for exiting from a field or on spend-down foundations specifically (Fleishman, 2011; Jaffe & Mackinnon, 2007; Petrovich, 2011; Gardner, Greenblott, & Joubert, 2005; Markham & Ditkoff, 2013; Ostrower, 2009, 2011). To date, however, no studies have examined how funders have managed to effectively exit from major, time-limited, place-based initiatives that aimed to simultaneously change policies and systems at multiple levels.