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Strategic Time Horizons in Philanthropy

Resource type: Research Report

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors |

Atlantic made a grant to Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to conduct the following surveys, reports, guidance, and case studies on time-limited philanthropy and Giving While Living.

Strategic time horizons–the length of time for which a philanthropic organization chooses to actively carry out its mission–have increasingly become a subject of consideration within philanthropic organizations, with many moving away from in-perpetuity models as the default. Driven by our mission to accelerate philanthropy in pursuit of a just world, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors explores how time horizon decisions are being made, and how those decisions impact the overall approach and operations of donor institutions and their partners.

RPA’s resources below provide an overview of trends and best practices, as well as practical considerations for philanthropies seeking to be more intentional about their time horizons in giving.

Survey Reports

2022 Global Survey Findings on Strategic Time Horizons and Trends in Philanthropy

Based on a survey of 150 organizations from 30 countries, this survey report includes a global exploration of various dimensions of strategic time horizons; and perceived advantages and disadvantages of different philanthropic timeframes. This is the only global research about philanthropy that includes views not only on reasons for giving, but on causes, the geographic flow of funding, giving timeframes, decision-making and next-generation involvement. View the webinar that highlights findings here. 

Strategic Time Horizons in Family Philanthropy (2020)

Created in partnership with Campden Wealth, this report reflects findings from a survey and interviews with over 200 ultra-high net worth families engaged in philanthropy. A few of the topics discussed include how families in the United States, Europe and Asia involve the next generation in their philanthropy; reasons and vehicles for giving, and how those reasons may be impacted by time horizons.

Strategic Time Horizons: A Global Snapshot of Foundation Approaches (2020)

Focused on foundation giving, this report includes a global exploration of various dimensions of strategic time horizons. It examines strategies and operations, as well as perceived advantages and disadvantages of different philanthropic timeframes.

Guides and Case Studies

Strategic Time Horizons in Philanthropy: Key Trends and Considerations

Details the significance of strategic time horizons to philanthropy and how being intentional about the choice can help further one’s mission, vision, and values. The first of a two-volume series, this guide provides an essential framework for how to select a time horizon that aligns with one’s vision and goals.

Strategic Time Horizons in Philanthropy: Strategy in Action

Provides guidance on how to implement a chosen strategic time horizon. In this second of the two-volume series, decision points, triggering events for spend down, timeline changes, and stepping stones for the spend-down process are explored.

In Their Own Words: Foundation Stories and Perspectives on Time-Limited Philanthropy

A compilation of case studies focused on philanthropic organization approaches to how and why they chose their respective strategic time horizons and the impact of those choices.


2022 Strategic Time Horizons Survey Report Launch

RPA’s Inquiry and Insights team provides highlights of survey findings based on 150 philanthropic organizations across 30 countries.

Strategic Time Horizons in Philanthropy: A Conversation on Foundation Perspectives and Experiences

In response to the urgent needs highlighted by the events of 2020, many donors began to think more intentionally about the intersection of longevity, impact, and spending. How might donors better serve their mission by strategically assessing their time horizon? What should they consider when developing an appropriate time frame? What steps should they take if change in time horizon is warranted? Featured presenters include Davide McGhee, then Vice President of Organizational Excellence and Impact at The Skillman Foundation, an in-perpetuity organization with deep roots in education in Detroit, Michigan and Lori Bezahler, then President of Edward W. Hazen Foundation, which had only recently decided to spend down all its resources to address systemic injustices in the United States.

This is the only global research about philanthropy that includes views not only on reasons for giving but on causes, giving geographies, time horizons, decision-making, and next-generation involvement. We remain grateful to The Atlantic Philanthropies for their support of this work.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.