To capture the magic of compounding.” For spritely Gisèle Huff, that is both reason and reward for a limited-life foundation. Looking back over her 17 years as executive director of the Jaquelin Hume ­Foundation, she believes the big bets and sharp focus of its grantmaking have sparked outsized results. When you put significant money to work early, she advises, “you can change the world in front of your own eyes.”

The Hume Foundation has another three to four years to invest its remaining assets—in its case in blended-learning strategies for improving our nation’s schools.

It wasn’t always expected that the Hume Foundation would spend itself to zero. When founder Jack Hume died, the foundation had a clear statement of donor intent that had been followed faithfully by the trustees, all of whom had known him and agreed with his guidelines. But the trustees weren’t certain Jack’s successors would share his vision. “The members of the next generation have their own careers, their own interests and, most importantly, their own views of the world,” wrote his son, William, to explain the trustees’ decision to sunset.

Accomplishing this takes effort. Despite his famous dictum, “He who dies rich, dies disgraced,” Andrew Carnegie himself not only failed to spend his wealth in charitable endeavors during his lifetime, but left behind a foundation intent on perpetuity. Yet his words have inspired other philanthropists to attempt to push out their resources in one generation.

Whether they want to magnify their impact, prevent mission drift, see results with their own eyes, avoid bureaucracy, or eliminate family conflict—or perhaps all of the above—donors have many motives for pushing their gifts over a limited, immediate period.

Read the full article about how foundations sunset by Joanne Florino at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.