Project Exit Strategy

Project Exit Strategy

Recognizing that funded projects end, the Haury Program encourages teams to consider an "exiting strategy" for their project. The Haury Program defines an exit strategy as a plan executed by the project team to pass along knowledge, resources or management at the end of their project. The project could be handed over to a community group, a local organization or a government body, or a partnership among any of them.

The goal of an exit strategy is to sustain the project's impact after it ends. In general, a project exit strategy is also called a project sustainability plan. The main project exit strategy's goals are:

  • To ensure a smooth transition of the project from the hands of the project team to those of implementers or beneficiaries,
  • To enable appropriate handover of the project activities to relevant stakeholders,
  • To prepare for possible adaptation and scaling up of the project by other partners,
  • To ensure the sustainability of impacts after the project ends.

Designing a project exit strategy leads to better outcomes. We encourage partners to start asking the following questions in the early planning stages of the project. Answering these questions will help partners to establish a plan for project sustainability.

  • What outcomes of the project do we want to sustain after it ends?
  • Who will be responsible for ensuring that each element will have a sustainable impact?
  • Do those responsible have the knowledge, skills, and resources required to sustain the benefits?
  • How are all the stakeholders being involved and kept informed?

Exit Strategy Matrix (credit: Michael McDonald, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona)
Water Integrity Network (2018). Exit Strategy & Creating Project Ownership
CMP Open Standards (2017). Planning for Sustainability and Responsible Exits
UNDP (2015). Exit Strategy. Trans-boundary Water Resources Management Project.