The Effective Exit

Managing the End of a Funding Relationship


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In grantmaking, is there such a thing as the good goodbye? Yes, say contributors to this guide, who have found ways to plan for exits upfront, clarify expectations with grantee organizations, and overcome the tensions that so often arise. Learn how to use the end of a funding relationship to boost a grantee's capacity, find new sources of support, and even multiply the value of the foundation’s investment.

  • Exit strategies used by four grantmakers 
  • Learning from spend-down foundations
  • When you're the one who's exiting
  • Breaking the ice with new funders

"Having an exit plan that can be named, even if it isn't precise, opens up space for strategic thinking inside the foundation, with grantees, and with your trustees."

— A grantmaker on the value of
thinking upfront about exits

"We’ve funded lots of initiatives and investments in new ideas that only came up because exiting was on everyone's minds."

— CEO of a foundation that is currently
spending down its assets

"It's easy to personalize the message in ways that can be confusing to the grantee and detrimental to the foundation. Don't say things like 'If it were up to me' or 'I tried to make the case, but' in hopes of making the situation more acceptable. If the message appears inconsistent, of course they'll try to go around you to others in the foundation. Who wouldnt?"

— A long-time grantmaker on consistent
communication about exits

"Clarify expectations, then clarify expectations again. Six months later, have the conversation again."

— A grantmaker on how a good exit
begins with clarity around goals