Key Points

What do funders leave behind when they exit? What is lost? Are there approaches to exits that are more effective at preserving the results of good work? Through interviews with 19 professionals who have experienced or are currently working through a foundation exit, this article draws on stories of more than a dozen such exits to fill the gaps in what is known about how to exit well.

This article discusses four areas where foundation exits present particular challenges and where there are significant opportunities to improve practice – deciding on and planning to exit, funder leadership, clear communication, and final grants – and includes summaries of advice from funder and grantee perspectives.

This article aims to offer practical insights that may help improve what is all too often an uncomfortable, confusing, and potentially damaging process, and, it is hoped, will spur continued research and contribute to a sustained dialogue about how to preserve, or even extend, value in the context of a foundation exit.

Open Access