The Kendeda Fund’s Girls’ Rights grantees, reflecting on their experience of our spend out, articulated their own guidance of how a limited-life foundation can spend out respectfully and with impact. We offer their words as an additional reference point for funders on a spend out journey.

Principles of spending down
1. How you enter + exit space matters: communicate spend-down intentions early → defined timeline.
2. Cultivate a culture of transformative giving: donor-to-donor advocacy → risk as opportunity → trust-based relationships.
3. Build knowledge and leave evidence: invest in narratives that shift practice + deepen understanding → share transformation story.
4. Be bridges and connectors: introduce partners to other funders → resource emerging work.

While much has been written about the best practices of grantmaking, little has been articulated about the ways to engage with spending down. Conversations with both funders and practitioners have shed light on many important lessons concerning the politics of spenddown. Given the current political climate in the girls' rights ecosystem, with the rise of fundamentalism and the closing of civil society spaces, there is a welcome invitation for foundations to invest more in frontline and movement partners by spending down their endowments. 

The commitment to invest more money and be more intentional about addressing pressing issues is seen as an act of trust, solidarity, and an opportunity to stand with and support frontline actors at this critical time. By investing strongly and intentionally in frontline and movement partners, foundations have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to social justice and the leadership of those articulating necessary solutions. Financial support today through a spend-down fund is an important backbone and has the potential to compound the impact of this space, better positioning girls' rights advocates overall.

However, it's important to acknowledge that the work of transformation is inherently long-term, and spenddown may raise concerns about the future of funding under such circumstances. While the principled underpinnings that inform spenddown are well noted and respected, partners have rightful questions and concerns about sustainability and continuity in the face of ongoing systemic challenges. Here, we uplift a few lessons that partners have identified as critical to principled spenddown practice.