Strategic Lifespan and Limited Life Foundations

Balancing Purpose, Payout, and Perpetuity

What is the most compelling argument for continuing your family foundation, or donor-advised fund, in perpetuity? What is the most compelling argument for raising annual payouts and setting a closing date? Whether to operate indefinitely or limit the lifespan of a foundation is among the most fundamental questions that foundations can ask—and a conversation every family or board should have. This NCFP Content Collection is aimed at new donors considering what strategic lifespan will best work for their foundation, as well as existing foundations that have already set a closing date, or any family or board contemplating the question. Know of other good resources to include here? Please suggest a resource.

For additional perspectives and case studies on ending long-term partnerships with grantees, see the Content Collection, Ending Well: Exits and Spend Downs.

For additional stories of founders and donor couples who have embraced the “Giving While Living” approach to philanthropy, see the Content Collection, Giving While Living: Profiles of Donors and Families.

Considering Payout and the Question of Perpetuity

Foundation Case Studies

NCFP Webinars and Teleconferences

Additional Voices and Perspectives

Research and Trends

Statements on Sunsetting

A growing number of donors and foundation boards are sharing statements clarifying their reasons and goals for spending down. Here are a few of our favorites:

John Merck Fund: Why We’re Closing

The Fierce Urgency of Now: The Compton Foundation

The Whitman Institute: Our Spend Out

Beldon Fund: Why Spend Out

Why the Raikes Foundation Is Not a Perpetual Philanthropy

The Brainerd Foundation Will Sunset in 2020

Edward W. Hazen Foundation: 5-Year Spend Down Plan

Stupski Foundation: Why Spend Down? Because Change Can’t Wait

Edward W. Hazen Foundation: We’re Going All In!

Edna McConnell Clark Foundation: EMCF’s Next Chapter

Pascale Sykes Foundation: How Planning to Close Our Foundation’s Doors Was the Right Business Model (Three part series)

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