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Harvest Time for The Atlantic Philanthropies – 2011-2012: Focus, Exit, and Legacy

Resource type: Research Report

Tony Proscio, Duke University Center for Strategic Philanthropy & Civil Society |

This report is the third in a series to chronicle the concluding years of The Atlantic Philanthropies, the largest foundation ever to decide to commit its entire endowment in a limited timeframe and then close its doors.

It covers events that occurred from late 2010 through September 2012, some four to five years before Atlantic expects to make its final grant commitments, including:

  • an intense 10-month strategic planning process to narrow its grantmaking focus and set a timetable for the foundation’s concluding period for each programme and each country where it operates
  • staff concerns as the realities of the end of foundation set in
  • Human Resources’ plans to help employees prepare for their post-Atlantic careers and positive reactions to the release of an explicit policy on severance
  • an examination into the issue of grantee sustainability, particularly in countries and programmes where replacement funders are unlikely. 

In-depth case studies explore Atlantic’s impact and the challenge of grantee sustainability in two focus areas: efforts to abolish the death penalty in the U.S. and to promote the rights of the rural poor in South Africa.

Atlantic commissioned this report.

> Blog Post: Feeling the Pressures of a Limited Life