Francie Ostrower, Ph.D., is Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Department of Theatre and Dance, Director of the Portfolio Program in Arts and Cultural Management and Entrepreneurship, and Senior Fellow in the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service. Prior to joining the University of Texas in 2008, she was Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy.

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Limited Life Foundations: Motivations, Experiences, and Strategies

Posted on February 3, 2009 by Francie Ostrower

I started the foundation in order to do what I wanted. . . . Twenty-five years after I’m gone, the foundation will terminate.” The donor who said this describes himself as “not super-conventional.” His decision to limit his foundation’s life is indeed an unconventional one. Most foundations are established in perpetuity, but the limited life option is starting to attract more attention, including media coverage of high profile examples of foundation closures. A major gap in the literature on philanthropy, however, is the absence of research on the motivations, strategies, and experiences associated with the decision to sunset. Consequently, little information is available to assist donors, foundation trustees, and staff wishing to consider and/or implement a plan to sunset… Read More

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